PEOPLE across Keighley are being urged to be on their guard against bike thieves.

West Yorkshire Police say that lockdown has seen a drop in the number of bicycles taken from homes and gardens, with more properties currently occupied daytime.

But there are concerns about incidents of bikes being stolen from people while out using them.

Reports of cyclists being forced – and threatened – to hand over their bikes have shown no decline compared to the same period last year.

And with increased numbers of people taking to cycling for exercise and to avoid having to use public transport during the coronavirus crisis, plus summer on the horizon, it’s feared the problem will worsen.

Paul Denison, West Yorkshire Police crime prevention officer, said: “Whilst the current lockdown has – for the time being – taken away many of the things we took for granted, one pastime that seems to have increased, especially with the warm start to the spring, is cycling.

“Many of us have dug out those dusty bikes, oiled that rusty chain and re-educated ourselves with YouTube videos on how to repair a puncture, before taking to the streets, cycle paths and dirt tracks and found places we never knew existed.

“Yet whilst out discovering the area, some of us have fallen victim to bike theft.

“Like most other property crimes bicycle theft in itself has reduced during the lockdown, but it is noticeable that bikes being taken from people by force or threats have remained a constant. Most of these offences are committed against young people riding alone.”

He says it’s important that cyclists follow a series of safety tips, including:

* Plan your route. Tell someone where you are going and how long for. Consider activating a location app on your phone

* Try to stay on paths where there are plenty of people about

* Ride with your family or another person, whilst observing social distancing rules

“Whilst these offences are rare compared to some other areas of the UK bikes are still being stolen – many by opportunist thieves,” added Mr Denison. “Any bike which is easy to steal will be attractive to offenders.”

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