West Yorkshire Police today released CCTV footage of the motorbike thieves in action as they revealed how five men and six youths from Leeds had been banned from touching any vehicle in the county without the owner's permission.
The group were identified as being linked to an organised gang which was behind an upsurge in the theft of motorbikes across Leeds, with vehicles mainly targeted in the city centre.
CCTV evidence showed how the gang were able to steal a properly secured motorcycle with seconds.
The gang was so prolific that there was a constant stream of stolen motorbikes, scooters and quads for youths to ride around on no matter how many the police seized.
And the issues increased dramatically in the summer when local policing teams and ward councillors were inundated with complaints about bikes being ridden dangerously at speeds of more than 90mph, on pavements, through children’s play areas, and in and out of traffic.
The offenders were hard to identify due to them removing or masking number plates and hiding their faces with scarves, hoodies or helmets.
But key members were identified thanks to the work of a Operation Badgeland, a team of officers set up to tackle bike thefts.
They worked alongside officers from Operation Leodis, which is funded by Leeds City Council to tackle mainly housing-related anti-social behaviour.
Chief Inspector Nick Ireland, of Safer Leeds, said: “We are confident that the successful securing of these wide-reaching orders against these key individuals will give a real boost to our efforts to tackle the organised theft of motorbikes along with the anti-social behaviour that it fuels.
“This gang was behind a significant upsurge in the theft of motorbikes which not only had a real impact on the lives of the victims of those thefts but also on people’s lives in the communities where these bikes were ridden dangerously and anti-socially.
“The problem was so bad that we saw a flood of complaints with people understandably suggesting it was only a matter of time before someone was killed or seriously injured."
He said the innovative use of civil injunctions mean there were now additional measures to control the behaviour of those individuals.
“We hope people will support this work by reporting any suspected breaches of the conditions made on the individuals involved," he said.
"We can assure them we will take all reports seriously and act upon them."
Coun Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member with responsibility for Safer Leeds said: “The way in which these individuals were riding motorbikes in areas of east Leeds was both reckless and extremely dangerous and put the personal safety of both motorists and pedestrians at risk.
“We simply will not accept this type of anti-social behaviour in our communities and I am pleased that working with the police we have secured these orders against the perpetrators.
"I hope this ruling sends out a clear warning to others thinking of taking part in this type of activity that it will not be ignored and they will face similar action being taken against them through the courts.”