LAWLESS joyriders are once again terrorising Capital suburbs on stolen high-performance motorbikes, an Evening News investigation can reveal.
Latest raids include balaclava-wearing yobs jumping red lights and casing driveways in Newington before a tourist’s stolen bike was torched nearby.
The city has been plagued by bike thieves over successive summers, claiming one young life and seriously injuring another as police struggle to cope.
Scottish Conservative Lothians MSP Miles Briggs said: “The theft of motorbikes is a serious offence which, as we have seen in Edinburgh before, can have devastating consequences.
“The police should be getting tough on those who commit this crime with far too much ease.
“But instead it seems they are so stretched officers have no chance at all of getting on top of this.”
A delivery driver told how it took police more than an hour to respond early Wednesday morning despite repeated calls as suspected thieves crossed his path.
“It’s frustrating,” the elderly driver said.
“The call handler asked what makes me think it’s stolen, but riders with no helmets, masks and jumping red lights should be enough to be suspicious.”
The driver first came across two suspects on a bike wearing no helmets with hoods up in Kirk Brae, Liberton, at 12.30am.
“I called the police on 101 and the call handler thanked me, but just seemed ready to end the call with not asking any details of what happened,” he said.
About ten minutes later, the driver saw a motorbike jump a red light on Captain’s Road.
Two motorbikes at the same junction were later ridden by riders in balaclavas, with one carrying a passenger.
Both sightings prompted further calls to police, first via 101 and then 999, but still no officers were despatched, the driver said.
“They were just asking me my details rather than about the people on the bikes,” he added.
The driver then spotted one motorbike parked up on Mayfield Gardens, Newington, while its rider and passenger peered down a hotel driveway as another sat on a second bike close by.
Convinced a motorbike was about to be stolen, the delivery driver circled the block before coming across a motorbike set alight on Peel Terrace and no sign of the suspects.
A passing milkman called firefighters as the delivery driver roused shocked residents, fearing the fire might spread.
“The hedge was on fire and I wanted to warn them because I was worried their car or house might go up,” he said.
A Slovakian couple from the guesthouse on Mayfield Gardens were traced as the owners of the bike that had been torched.
“It looks like they pushed the bike around the corner and then set it alight after being disturbed by the milkman,” the delivery driver said.
“They looked absolutely shell-shocked.
“He said it was their first night in Edinburgh and the bike wasn’t insured for theft overseas.
“He said they’d have to have a think about it, but it looks like the end of their holiday.”
The delivery driver claimed he attempted to flag down three passing police cars – none on emergency calls – with his torch, but none stopped.
Two officers finally arrived in a patrol car after being scrambled from 11 miles away, by which time firefighters had been, put out the fire and left.
“The two police officers told me they’re so short-staffed, they had to come from South Queensferry,” the delivery driver said.
Bike thieves typically target tourists’ bikes – many less well secured – from outside hotels or on campsites across the Capital.
Such is the city’s reputation, German biker forums are now understood to be warning riders to avoid Edinburgh altogether on trips and head straight to the Highlands.
Two suspected thieves were filmed last week also in Mayfield Gardens on a German veteran’s bike reportedly stolen days earlier and later abandoned in Dalkeith.
The pair were spotted running red lights and speeding recklessly through a packed city centre in broad daylight, including along George Street and Princes Street.
A ten-year-old boy was left with serious injuries in August last year after bike thieves knocked him down in a hit-and-run on a crossing outside Drylaw police station on Ferry Road.
And in June 2016, 14-year-old Brad Williamson was killed when the stolen motorbike he was riding hit a car on Silverknowes Road.
Chief Inspector Gill Geany urged the public to report motorbike crime while officers are cracking down on the joyriders and providing security tips to bikers.
“We know that antisocial behaviour and motorcycle related disorder causes distress to local communities and we continue to work with our partners across the Capital to address it,” CI Geany said.