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Hundreds of bikes held at police station
A DOZEN bikes a week are sent to auction by police officers who are unable to trace their rightful owners.
More than 250 unclaimed bikes are languishing at St Aldate’s police station after being recovered in raids in the city because they are not security marked or their owners have not reported them stolen.
In some cases, police officers are forced to hand bikes back to suspected thieves who they have arrested.
Officers say they are unable to charge some suspects because, without a crime report recording the theft, it is impossible to prove that the bike has a different rightful owner.
Sgt Matt Sulley said: “It does stick in the craw. We know when things are stolen and things are not – but we’ve got to prove it.”
After eight weeks, bikes held by the police that are unclaimed are sent to auction and the proceeds from the sale go to the Police Property Act Fund which supports charities in the Thames Valley region.
Sgt Sulley said: “At any one time there will be a couple of hundred bikes at least, it’s a continual turnaround.
“Usually the bikes have either been seized because they are found to be insecure and we believe that they are lost or stolen or dumped, or they are recovered from addresses that we have raided and are believed to be stolen. We will also stop check people in the street that we know to be involved in bike theft.”
He said the majority of bike thefts in the city were the work of a small number of people.
Once bikes are taken from criminals and suspects the police can only return them if they can cross-check them with a reported theft, identify them through the immobilise property register website or by a property marking sticker.
Sgt Sulley added: “If people use the immobilise.com website that’s the best way to register your bike.
“To prevent it being stolen in the first place use a high quality D-lock and lock it through the back wheel and frame.”
James Styring, of campaign group Cyclox, said: “It is myth that stolen bikes are never found.
“Lots of people do get their bikes back – people I know have had bikes returned.
“Often people don’t follow up and just think that they won’t see their bike again, but it’s always worth asking around bike shops and checking ebay. It’s also really useful to have a photo of your bike.”