FIVE bikes a day are now being stolen in York, after a sudden surge in thefts.

Cycling City York manager Graham Titchener said the council, police and Safer York Partnership had held talks about the rise but said they were all “perplexed” by the increase.

He said: “A lot of these thefts are opportunist – we are not talking about some organised crime wave here.” The figures show 820 bikes have been stolen so far this year with 161 stolen alone last month – equivalent to five a day. The spate has come despite a number of high-profile police operations to drive down the crime.

Police say a large proportion of the thefts are due to owners leaving bikes unlocked, using inadequate locks or leaving their biked in inadequate and unsafe areas.

Twice as many cycles were reported stolen at the University of York last month compared with the same time last year, and the local Safer Neighbourhood Team is now using covert techniques and plain clothes officers in a bid to catch the offenders.

Micklegate, Guildhall, Poppleton and Fishergate also saw increases, while the Heworth ward and Huntington and New Earswick reported rises of 140 per cent and 227 per cent respectively.

Police have tried various initiatives such as the city-wide Operation Spoke, where people can have their bikes tagged, to deter thieves.

Under the scheme, 4,000 bikes have been UV marked, increasing the chances of stolen cycles being returned.

Cycles with RedWeb technology – tracking devices left on cycles to trap offenders – are also frequently deployed in the worst hit racks.

Mr Titchener, Cycling City manager for City of York Council, said “a serious amount of money” from the Cycling City budget had been ploughed into cycling safety and security in the city.

“We want people to cycle more so we need to spend money to make sure cycling is safe and secure,” he said. There has been a rise in the number of cyclists in the city and the number of bikes being purchased, so that might be one factor.

“But I have to say we are perplexed. I would say people need to invest in decent locks – those that only cost a couple of pounds are not adequate.”

He said further campaigns were being planned, including in hotspot areas such as St Andrewgate.

CTC York spokesman Paul Hepworth said more money was needed to cover parts of the city not yet covered by CCTV.

He said: “Anyone who has spent hard-earned money on a bike, especially an expensive one, is going to be naturally upset by the theft of their cycle.”

A police spokesperson said: “From analysing reported incidents, the main area of concern is how users either leave cycles unlocked or use inadequate locks.

“The cycles are also left in inappropriate areas such as unlit streets, out of sight, around the corners of buildings or simply dumped on a pavement. These are all places criminals look for and know about.”

The Press reported earlier this year how a former electricity sub-station near Lendal Bridge will be turned into a cycling hub which will allow 100 bikes to be parked there.

Police advice

• When buying a bike, budget for security. Take out insurance.

• Record and register your bike model, make and frame number.

• Take a clear, colour photograph of your bike and make a written record of its description, including any unique features.

• Security mark the bicycle or get it tagged. • Park in secure, designated areas.

• Protect your bike with a lock. A hardened steel D-lock is recommended as the minimum.