Revealed: Bike theft hotspots in Norwich as just one in ten thieves are caught
Police are using new tactics including decoys to protect bikes in Norwich as it is revealed only one in ten thieves are caught.
Half of the 4,000 bike thefts in Norfolk over the last three years have been in the city. And a quarter have been in the city centre.
Some of the most common hotspots, according to Norfolk Police data, include William Booth Street and the Haymarket, UEA, St Lawrence Lane, and Bank Plain.
But of the more than 2,000 bike thefts in Norwich in recent years, just 90 were solved. Of those, almost a third were not prosecuted as it was "not in the public interest".
Just 18 thieves have received prison sentences since August 2016.
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While the city centre is the most common target, thefts can also occur in quiet neighbourhoods.
Six-year-old Tommy Stewart was left "devastated" after the bike he was given last Christmas was stolen from his front garden in North Walsham.
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He had only had the bike five months.
His mother, Sophie, 27, had saved Halford vouchers worth £220 to buy him the Carrera Junior Blast.
"The bike was normally kept in our back garden, however we live in a quiet cul-de-sac so we left it on our front garden and noticed it had gone missing on May 14 or 15," she said.
"The police have been informed and we have a crime reference number, however the police informed me that it's very hard to find a bike and have it returned sadly.
"We do have the bike serial number which does help, but still very unlikely to get it back."
Miss Stewart has advertised the theft on stolen-bikes.co.uk and scans eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace every day.
"My son is devastated it's gone, he loved his bike and he used to ride it all the time," she added. "He loved riding it to the park, and the shops or just outside with his friends. "It's an expensive bike to replace so we just haven't been able to get him the same bike again."
In the fight against bike thieves in the city, policing teams are bringing in new tactics.
They include placing "decoy bikes" in common hotspots in a bid to catch thieves in the act.
Superintendent Terry Lordan, Norwich policing commander, said: "The local policing team have worked with key partners BID, and bike community groups to do all that we can to reduce the number of bike thefts in Norwich.
"The local community beat managers offer a free marking service and we have spoken to businesses that sell bikes to have them marked before selling.
"This allows us to identify victims when we recover bikes. We have worked with secure areas for people to lock up bikes around the city.
"We also have a local operation where we are using best practice from other cities who have bike thefts. Part of that operation is taking a proactive approach where the city neighbourhood team will be using a number of tactics including decoy bikes to identify offenders.
"I would encourage people to use one of the secure bike parking areas in the city, also to always ensure that they continue to lock their bikes up securely and to report any suspicious activity."
Police issue the following safety advice to keep your bike secure;
-Invest in a good quality lock for your bicycle to no less than CEN security grade 3-4; D locks are the most effective and a worthwhile investment
-Use a lock to secure the bike-stand, wheel rim and frame together making it more difficult for a thief to steal it
-Never leave your bike unlocked in a public place
-Find a suitable location to leave and secure your bike; dark alleys, drain-pipes and posts should not be used
-Get your bike security marked by your local Safer Neighbourhood Team making it readily identifiable should it be recovered
-Consider registering your bike using a third party service to further protect it such as Bike Register or Immobilise
-Bikes kept in garages and sheds in particular should be properly secured; alternatively if there is room, inside the home is the most secure location to store your bike.
Find secure cycle parking areas at Norwich Cycle Parking.