IT’S the quintessential festive gift for thousands, a brand new bike for Christmas.
But startling new statistics reveal today that cyclists living in Edinburgh need to be on their guard after a spike in the number of two-wheeled thefts.
Even more alarming is that the trend isn’t just opportunist, but a change in tactics by crooks in the criminal underworld looking to avoid lengthy jail terms if caught.
Our investigation has discovered that the city was being hit by at least four bike theft a DAY.
Theft of pedal cycles saw the most dramatic increase of all crimes in Edinburgh – up from 745 in the first half of last year to 1,258 this year.
That is a shuddering increase of more than two-thirds.
Law chiefs say the numbers prove seasoned crooks are switching to stealing high-value cycles because they are easier to acquire and sell on – while incurring lesser sentences if caught.
And the impact of having a bike stolen can have a lasting effect as track cyclist Callum Skinner, who claimed Olympic gold in the team sprint event at the 2016 games in Rio explained: “I was a victim of bike theft when I was 13 in the Bruntsfield area.
“It can be devastating especially as a child. We logged the crime with the police but nothing came of it.
“Bike theft is a large and growing problem. People don’t always appreciate that some bikes on the road cost more than your average used car.
“If you own a bike, make sure to take a note of the frame number, take out insurance, securely lock your bike and don’t leave it unattended in a car or on a car rack.
“I hope the police are doing their best to reduce bike theft as much as possible.”
Police Scotland revealed that more than half of bikes stolen are taken from the owner’s property.
Edinburgh’s top police officer, Chief Superintendent Kenny MacDonald, said: “I would encourage people to ensure that property and presents are not left on open view and that their own homes are as secure as they can make them and that any suspicious activity is reported to my officers.”
Freewheelin Cycles in Slateford said it is crucial to take precautions to make it as difficult as possible for determined bike thieves.
In advice posted on Facebook said: “Lots of bike theft going on around Edinburgh.
“To help protect against this get yourself a good quality lock. We’d advise you spend around 10 per cent of the bike’s value on a lock. Cable locks are handy for popping to the shops for a few minutes but to secure the bike for longer periods get a shackle lock. Good ones from On Guard, Abus & Oxford will help keep your bike safer.
“Always remember to lock the bike to something secure. Stay safe guys and don’t give a thief the opportunity to leave you without your bike and out of pocket.”