A GANG of youths in hoodies tried to steal a motorbike from a woman on her way to her friend’s house – while she was still riding it.
The 25-year-old Pole was left terrified as the yobs grabbed the saddle of her Suzuki as she rode along West Pilton Grove.
The thugs managed to pull the keys out of the ignition but ran off when they were confronted by a passing Good Samaritan.
The eight-strong gang, which included both boys and girls aged about 14, struck at around 8.25pm on Wednesday.
The incident represents an escalation in the ongoing problem of tearaways stealing bikes in north Edinburgh. The police helicopter, based in Strathclyde, has been deployed to the skies above the Capital to hunt down joyriders and allow officers on the ground to intercept them.
Police said that the victim was driving around the area while searching for a friend’s home.
Three members of the gang were involved in seizing the bike saddle while trying to steal the keys from the ignition before the victim managed to pull to a halt.
She bravely tried to fight off the youths while gang members shouted abuse, but they seized hold of the keys.
At that moment, a man passing by intervened and chased the group away. The keys were dropped in a grass area at West Pilton Avenue and recovered.
A police spokeswoman said: “The victim was shaken up by what happened. We are appealing to anyone who witnessed this incident, or know the identity of those involved, to come forward.”
The first suspect is described as white, slim build, 5ft 5in tall, with blonde hair, and wearing a blue hooded top and grey tracksuit bottoms.
The second is described as white, slim build, 5ft 3in tall, with dark hair, and wearing a white hooded top and a T-shirt or top with black stripes across the left side.
Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie, who represents the area, said: “This is outrageous. I’m sure it’s no great comfort to the victim that her bike wasn’t stolen as she must have been very shaken by this experience.
“It’s fortunate that she was not injured, but the next person this happens to might not be so lucky. These youths will likely be known in the community and I would appeal to people to report them to police. Being caught is the only thing that can stop them.”
The police helicopter has been deployed over Pilton, as well as Muirhouse and the waterfront area, to target illegal off-roading. The crackdown led to 20 arrests and 40 vehicles recovered in the first two months since the operation launched at the beginning of August.
Councillor Cammy Day, the city’s community safety leader who also represents the ward, said: “It’s really concerning. We need to identify the handful of youths who are creating havoc in north Edinburgh, and I would ask for public help to do that.”