Bike thieves are openly selling stolen vehicles on social media accounts, with some even taunting their alleged victims.
A group called 'Weston Repo Guys' have been stealing bikes in the Weston-Super-Mare area before posting pictures on Instagram.
The account (which has since been made private) claimed that the group 'repossessed' neglected bikes and invited victims to smile if they saw their bike listed.
Referring to theft as 'repossession' is a growing theme on social media, with countless 'repo gang' style accounts on Instagram alone.
An account named 'Repogan', for example, claims to offer stolen vehicles for sale. In one such post, a 2015 Kawasaki ZX-6R is shown and another Instagram user has asked if the bike is 'chordy' (meaning stolen – we had to ask a young person to translate...) and Repogan confirms it is.
Another 'chordy' bike offered for sale on the account is a 1999 Yamaha R1 purportedly stolen from South Wales and offered for £500. But things may not be entirely as they seem.
A Honda CRF250 listed by Repogan (who is based in London) was actually listed as stolen in Canada by Facebook user Tanya Van Allen Wright. Several other vehicles are listed using an image originally posted by the victim rather than a new image, so it is unclear whether Repogan actually has possession of these vehicles at all.
"A surprising amount of interest is taken nowadays by police in the social media sites," Dr Ken German, a motorcycle crime expert, told MCN.
"These sites offer opportunities to identify thieves and retrieve motorcycles like those seen on Instagram. While some sites have drawn information that led police to stolen bikes and those responsible, more and more sites appear to be used for boasting and from those seeking recognition.
"The police, of course, cannot condone victims paying to have their machines returned to them and indeed there is not much evidence that this has happened more than a couple of times.
"Anyone affected by taunting should really contact officers at their local police station. Also, keep your insurance company in the loop regarding any demands made for money."
A man in his 20s and a woman, 19, have been arrested by Operation Venice officers, the Met’s moped-enabled crime division. The pair are suspected of committing 10-15 thefts across London in 2019 using a stolen moped on a stolen number plate.
Officers found the stolen moped parked in south London and waited for the pair to return before making the arrest. "Operation Venice continues to identify and bring to justice offenders who steal mopeds and use them to commit crime," said Sergeant Callum Rodgers of Operation Venice.
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