Brazen thief steals bicycle from Edinburgh Covid-19 doctor working 56 hours a week - after cutting lock outside hospital's main entrance

A brazen thief stole a bike belonging to a doctor who is working 56 hours a week to treat Covid-19 patients - from outside the hospital's main entrance during broad daylight.

Niamh Cooper had just finished her afternoon shift at the Western General Hospital at about 5:30pm on Tuesday when she discovered her armoured bike lock lying on the ground in two pieces.

The 32-year-old is now appealing for help to trace the bike she used every day to get to work, often cycling 10 miles from her Annandale Street home to work the morning shift at the Royal Infirmary before an afternoon at the Western General.

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Niamh Cooper's bike was stolen on Tuesday afternoon from a bike rack outside the Western General Hospital main entrance.

But she worries that there is a general acceptance - with some members of the public and the police - that bike theft across Edinburgh is simply the "norm."

She said: "I think bike theft is just appalling and we, more generally, just need to not accept that it's completely normal that your bike is nicked every two years. People are just so blasé about it rather than being proactive. I would like to see a change in everybody by taking bike theft seriously.

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"I think it's amazing that this could happen in broad daylight, and about 20 people were standing around in various areas outside the hospital when I arrived (for the shift), there must have been people who witnessed it.

"It just seems like the lowest of the low for someone to do this. There is a difference between stealing a bike from outside a Tesco and actually coming to a hospital."

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A manufacturer's image of the Pinnacle Arkose bicycle.

Niamh, who has been qualified as a doctor for eight years and had been conducting obstetrics research at Edinburgh University, returned to working in the city's hospitals at the end of March to help treat patients with Covid-19 as part of the national effort to tackle the pandemic.

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The doctor, who regularly works on call and on night shifts and weekends, believes her £1,000 bike - a purple Pinnacle Arkose with dropped handlebars - was stolen from the bike rack in front of the Western General’s main entrance, at some point on Tuesday between 1:30pm and 5:30pm.

Niamh, who bought the bike a year ago, had been working at the Royal Infirmary from 8:30am on Tuesday morning before starting her afternoon shift at the Western General.

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She mostly works at the Royal Infirmary, about five miles from where she lives, and depends on the bike as she doesn't have a car.

It’s the second time she has been the victim of bike theft in Edinburgh following another incident three years ago.

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Call for more bike sheds

Niamh is now looking to find another bike she can use to get to work on Thursday, and suggested the authorities could look into having more locked bike sheds on NHS sites to prevent further thefts.

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She added: "Everyone needs to be vigilant and get their bikes into a locked shed, as well as having a secure bike lock."

It comes just five days after Lottie Qayle, an administrator for the substance misuse service in Links Place in Leith, told the Evening News that CCTV from a local guest house showed a man spending about 10 minutes stealing her bike which was secured to a rack outside her workplace.

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The 29-year-old, who also lives in Broughton, said she was "incensed" by the theft and suggested more people who might normally be shoplifting could be turning to bike theft. She said she spoke with a colleague who had heard of two other cases of bikes being stolen from NHS workers in the same week.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Police received a report of a bike theft from the Western General Hospital on Tuesday 12 May 2020.

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“This was only reported to police on Tuesday evening and as such further enquiries such as viewing CCTV will be carried out in due course.”

A previous statement issued by Policing Inspector, Norman Towler, said: "We are working with our partners in NHS Lothian to ensure their staff are supported with appropriate crime prevention measures.

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"Officers will be carrying out bike marking for staff at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on Friday and Monday."

More details on how to keep your bike secure can be found HERE.