‘No hope of seeing their bikes again’

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Thieves have stolen almost 5,000 bicycles in Sheffield in the past three years – and only five per cent have ever been recovered.

Police figures obtained as part of The Star’s Your Right To Know campaign also show 28 bikes were taken during the Tour de France weekend.

Bike racks and bikes around the city of Sheffield

Bike racks and bikes around the city of Sheffield

The highest value of any bike stolen was £8,000.

Cyclists say they are aware of gangs working to order and some use social media to pinpoint valuable models.

Although the number of stolen bikes reported annually between 2011 and 2013 fell, so did the amount reunited with their owners.

Cyclist Jonathan Pupius was woken by thieves as they made away with two bikes worth £2,500, including one custom-made model from Germany, by breaking into his bike shed at 6am.

The 32-year-old law practice manager, of Nether Edge, said: “The thieves couldn’t get through the hinges on the shed so they took off the roof.

“The police came within a few minutes, then searched the area. But nobody was ever found and the bike just disappeared. It was probably stripped down for parts.”

In total 4,734 bikes were stolen during the three years, and only 264 were found.

And Mick Nott, chair of the Cycle Sheffield group, said: “A lot of people don’t even report it.”

“They know they have no hope of seeing their bike again. The really worrying thing is bike thefts are not just opportunistic. There are gangs going through town and using technology like cycling tracker Strava to steal people’s bikes.

“Bike theft just puts people off cycling when what is needed in Sheffield is more secure cycle parking so people don’t have to lock them up on railings.

“Our suggestion is that every time a multi-storey car park is built we need to make sure the ground floor is secure cycle parking.”

Data shows more than 500 bikes were taken from the city centre. Crime hotspots also included Western Bank, Ecclesall Road and Pond Street.

The figures come as Sheffield Council aims to capitalise on the success of the Tour de France by encouraging more people to take to two wheels.

Paul Sullivan, senior transport planner, said the council was planning to create three enclosed cycle hubs, including one 24-hour option in the city centre, another at Meadowhall, and one at Graves Leisure Centre.

Grants are also available for organisations to improve their cycle parking.

Mr Sullivan, a cyclist who has had his own bike stolen, said: “It is a priority for us and since 2007 we have increased the number of cycle stands by between 20 and 30 a year, mainly by public request.

“The first thing we do is encourage every cyclist to have two locks – a D-lock and something on the front wheel as well.

“If you have two locks you will be really unlucky to have your bike nicked. It is worth that investment.”

Visit www.thestar.co.uk for a video guide , thanks to Cycle Sheffield, on how to lock your bike to prevent theft.