GANGS of masked raiders are targeting bike shops in a plush Capital suburb before racing off on high-end cycles worth thousands of pounds.
Yobs smashed their way with an axe through the door of Bike & Spanner in Stockbridge to steal a £6,000 bike in one recent raid.
The Evening News has reported how seasoned housebreakers are understood to have switched to luxury bikes as rich pickings with lesser penalties if caught.
“These young guys can do whatever they want to wreck others’ livelihoods,” said Bike & Spanner owner Lewis Crolla, 29. “They believe they’re untouchable as the police aren’t cracking down on them.”
The shop door of Bike & Spanner, in Comely Bank Avenue, was chopped down one night in January after the shop had shut for the day. Mr Crolla believes the high-end bike was stolen to order as nothing else in the store was touched.
“The shop couldn’t be secured and I ended up having to sleep on the floor to make sure no one tried to steal anything,” added the dad-of-one.
Then in March, a group of balaclava-clad youths were spotted circling Bike & Spanner and other nearby stores before riding off.
And last Tuesday, two bikes were taken from the Gamma store in Dean Park Street before Mr Crolla’s own £4,000 ride was taken from outside his shop – despite being chained to an iron anchor.
“Bike theft is at an all time high,” said Mr Crolla. “Virtually every customer who comes into my shop has been affected at some point. Daily my needs feed has posts of high end mountain bikes being stolen from garages or off roofs of cars.
“I am living the dream owning my own bike shop however we have had three incidents and been robbed twice in the space of six months – it’s absolutely disgusting.”
Mr Crolla said officers told him drug gangs are now turning to lucrative bike theft expecting little chance of punishment.
“The way it’s going and the feeling in the air is something has to change or Edinburgh is going to end up with lynch mobs after these young thugs,” added Mr Crolla.
“They’re getting to court and because they’re seen as pedal cycles, they’re not taken seriously but some of these taken are more valuable than a lot of cars.”
Police were unable to provide a comment, but temporary chief superintendent Richard Thomas has acknowledged a rise in bike thefts across the Capital, saying previously: “We are fully aware of the impact that having your bike stolen can have on members of the public.”