Bike owners are being warned to take extra care as police are hunting an opportunistic thief who snatched a bicycle from outside a newsagent while the owner was inside.

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It comes as new figures show that there have already been 38 bike thefts this month in Norwich, as of Friday, compared to 34 in the whole of December.

David La Motte left his bike outside Stuart’s newsagents in Hall Road at about 5pm on Wednesday.

He said: “I just popped in to get some orange juice. As soon as I got in, I looked out the window and my bike was still there, and I had left the lights flashing. By the time I paid, a few minutes later, it was gone.”

Mr La Motte, who works at Archant, the publisher of the Norwich Evening News, and lives in Barrett Road, reported it to the police and later viewed footage of the theft on CCTV.

“It’s just a normal issue bike, grey colour, and worth about £300, but I also had three DVDS on the back,” he added. “I normally lock my bike when I leave it, but I knew I was only going to be in the shop a few minutes.”

Police are investigating the incident and a spokesman confirmed that there had been a rise in the number of bikes stolen in the city this month, although it followed a sharp reduction in offences in December following Operation Fusion.

The spokesman said: “It’s not just new bikes that get stolen. All makes, models, sizes and ages are vulnerable and very tempting for thieves if they are left unlocked outside your back gate, the local shop or at the park.

“We would encourage cyclists to invest in a decent lock and secure it to a suitable location.”

Meanwhile, police this week charged a man in connection with two bike thefts last November.

Paul Barrett, 38, of Jewson Road, Norwich, has been charged with two counts of theft in the city centre on November 10 and 16. He has been released on conditional bail to appear before Norwich magistrates’ court on February 6.

Anyone with information about Wednesday’s theft should call police on 101.

Have you been the victim of a recent bike theft in Norwich? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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