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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 12:57 GMT
Motorbike thefts in 20 seconds
Police blitz on bike theft
Police will be leading the motorbike theft crackdown
The National Criminal Intelligence Service reckons it only takes 20 seconds to steal a motorbike by lifting it onto a van using scaffolding poles.

A rise in such crime, especially of high performance machines, has prompted the NCIS to join forces with police forces and councils to make the bikes harder to steal and more difficult to sell on.

Motorbike enthusiasts say the loss of a vehicle often leaves the owner deeply traumatised as if bereaved

Having a motorbike stolen can be like losing a close friend or a horse

Richard Olliffe
British Motorcycle Federation
Steve Powell of the NCIS Organised Vehicle Crime Section, said: "Three million pounds worth of bikes disappear off the streets each month, so this campaign will push to improve security.

"We're working with the stolen vehicle squads, local authorities, businesses, the industry and motorcycle enthusiasts to make the bikes harder targets."

He said that motorbikes are a very vulnerable target because of the speed of the theft.

Richard Olliffe, of the British Motorcycle Federation, said the figures were "absolutely appalling" and welcomed the campaign.

He said: "Having a motorbike stolen can be like losing a close friend or a horse and some of our members have needed counselling."

Theft also carried a huge financial cost, because some owners were locked into hire purchase agreements or found difficulty getting insurance again.

Bike theft facts
About 95,000 stolen bikes still missing
1 in 20 motorbikes stolen
A theft can take 20 seconds
About a dozen organised gangs are believed to be operating in the country, with particular prominence in London, West Yorkshire and the West Midlands.

They are believed to be young and probably motor enthusiasts themselves, with a good knowledge of bikes and the ability to strip them quickly.

The gangs also have good contacts nationally and internationally, with co-ordination likely to come from figures higher up the chain.

Mr Powell said:"This crime at the moment has a relatively small risk because it has been a low priority historically for us and the rewards are fairly high.

"A 5,000 bike stolen in 20 seconds means a substantial profit and a basic theft sentence if caught.

"We aim to make it far more risky and reduce the attractiveness."

'Eyes and ears'

Owners are being urged to strengthen the security of their bikes by using several methods.

And they are being asked to divulge to the police any information about the racket, including corrupt motorbike businesses or people who race stolen bikes.

"They will be the eyes and ears of this particular campaign," Mr Powell added.

Councils are being asked to follow the lead of Camden in north London, where secured motorbike bays have reduced theft.

The Home Office is funding several vehicle crime projects, including this one for motorbikes, in a bid to meet the government target of reducing vehicle crime by 30%.

A further NCIS report on scooters and bikes below 500cc is also being compiled.

See also:

16 Oct 01 | England
Rural workers loaned mopeds
14 Oct 01 | England
Car thefts soar
24 Oct 01 | Business
Indian motorbike sales soar
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