Brighton’s police chief has professed herself “absolutely exasperated” at a significant rise in bike thefts in the city, assuring residents, “we are absolutely taking this seriously.” Chief Superintendent Lisa Bell also said that officers would be “exploiting CCTV and understanding the areas where this is prevalent” – even though the force recently refused to watch its own footage of a bike theft.
Last month thieves took the saddle from David Bailey’s £1,000 mountain bike so that he couldn’t ride it home and then returned that night to cut through the lock.
The bike was taken from an area that is covered by police-controlled CCTV, but when Bailey phoned 101 he was told that using staff time to view the footage was “not proportionate to the nature of the offence.”
A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “CCTV covering the area was not checked because the use of staff time to search 12 hours of recordings was assessed in this case as not proportionate to the nature of the offence.”
As several readers pointed out in the comments to our article, all an officer would have to do would be to play the middle of the recording to see if the bike was still there or not. This process could then be repeated a number of times to easily find the exact moment the bike was taken.
Bell told The Argus that there has been a “significant rise” in thefts in Brighton and because of this police now believe that thieves could be operating in groups or as an organised gang.
“Bike thefts have gone up. I am absolutely exasperated this is happening in a city that wants to promote the green agenda by using bikes. How frustrating that at 9am you chain up your bike and then when you come back at 5pm it is gone. Some people spend a fortune on their bike, it is their mode of transport. I absolutely share their frustration.”
Police are now launching Operation Ensnare which will involve dedicated investigators and a campaign for people to get their bikes marked and registered.
Bell said: “We will be exploiting CCTV and understanding the areas where this is prevalent. We will also be giving crime prevention advice because some people are responsible but many people might not use extra security measures.
“We are absolutely taking this seriously. We recognise the importance - it may not seem like a heavy duty crime but when it is your mode of transport having your bike stolen can cause huge problems. Some cost thousands of pounds and if it is stolen there is the added cost of alternative transport - the effect cannot be underestimated.”