Lancashire police believe they are on the trail of a gang of bike thieves responsible for up to 40 stolen bikes across the Preston area — but they can't name any suspects as they are just 15 and 16 years old.
The schoolboy crime wave is believed to be the work of just three or four youngsters who have stolen bikes worth thousands from victims in Broadgate, the University area, and Middleforth, according to the Lancashire Evening Post.
The gang is suspected of running a professional 'chop shop' operation, stealing multiple bikes and respraying them to make them harder to identify. In one raid, the pint-sized perpetrators made off with six bikes.
Police say they have had calls from worried residents who have spotted a group trying to break into sheds at night, trying property doors and going into gardens.
However, the bicycle Bugsy Malones seem to be avoiding houses on main roads.
PC Carl Ingram, Broadgate’s community policeman, said since the start of the year, 13 separate bike thefts had been reported in the three areas.
He added : “They are thought to be due to the same people, and on some occasions more than one bike has been stolen. One family had four bikes.
“Some bikes are worth hundreds of pounds - it makes sense to get a £20 bike lock to deter thieves.
“An investigation is ongoing and we are confident we will catch the culprits. We want to reassure residents action is being taken.
“One suspects has already been convicted of a bike theft but can’t be named for legal reasons.
“We would warn anyone who spots something suspicious to contact us on 101.”
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.