CYCLISTS across North Yorkshire are being urged to keep their bikes locked up following a dramatic surge in the number of thefts over the past few months.
The number of cyclists across the county has increased significantly over the past few years and the number of bicycle thefts has mirrored this.
But experts say there has been a noticeable spike in the number of thefts over Christmas – particularly in York, one of the country's most popular cities for cyclists.
Now North Yorkshire Police say they are now planning a series of crime prevention workshops in the hope of reducing thefts.
Mick Brown, manager and director of Bike Rescue Project in York and a member of the cycle theft strategy on Safer York Partnership, said a quarter of the customers he had seen this week had reported their bikes being stolen.
He said: "Bicycle crime seems to have gone up so much in the past few months.
"There has been a massive increase in cycling over the past few years and bike crime has gone up with that.
"Generally these bikes are being taken from big places like the university and colleges and either get sold for 10 for drugs or a lot of the bikes are taken to be stripped," he added.
"Some of the bikes taken are relatively expensive but usually it is just the easiest ones to take that are being targeted."
In response to the thefts, police are holding two bike security sessions at Northallerton Town Hall on Sunday January 23 and Sunday February 20 for cyclists to have their bikes marked with their postcode free of charge.
Police have also launched Operation Spoke in York, which has already been joined by 8,000 people and local businesses to clampdown on thieves and enable recovered bicycles to be quickly reunited with their owners.
Chief Inspector Dave Hannan, of York Safer Neighbourhood Command, said: "The security marking is one element of our ongoing campaign to clampdown on bike thefts, we have also carried out security checks on insecure bicycles which we have found to highlight the importance of locking your cycle when left unattended.
"Many people will have received bicycles for Christmas and we are encouraging everyone to take adequate security measures to prevent the loss of their property."