Drug dealer gets five years: Prolific offender picked up after crashing stolen Yamaha

Thomas Kehoe (inset) and police attending the Runcorn incident
Thomas Kehoe (inset) and police attending the Runcorn incident

A drug dealer who was caught by police after crashing a stolen motorbike in Runcorn, Cheshire, has been jailed.

Thomas Kehoe was sentenced to five years and four months at Chester Crown Court after pleading guilty to driving without due care and attention, driving without insurance, driving without a licence, and driving whilst disqualified.

Kehoe of Latham Close, Prescott, was riding a white Yamaha when it collided with a car in June this year. He was arrested by police at the scene when they discovered the bike was stolen. Officers later discovered Kehoe was wanted in relation to drugs offences in Birmingham and Merseyside.

Thomas Kehoe has been jailed for drug and driving offences

“Kehoe is a prolific drugs offender who continues to show a clear disregard for the law and the communities that the law protects,” said PC Phil Thomason of the Regional County Lines Unit. “At the time of the offence, Kehoe was not only driving illegally but he was operating a stolen vehicle.

“Throughout the incident the manner of his [riding] was reckless and abhorrent, and it was only by sheer chance that nobody was killed or seriously injured because of his actions.

“The sentence handed to him today reflects the severity of his actions, he is clearly a dangerous individual and he is now being held accountable.”

Halton Road, Runcorn after the accident

Kehoe also pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of class-A drugs (crack cocaine and heroin), an offence that related to county lines drugs dealing between Merseyside and Cheshire between September 2021 and June 2022.

PC Thomason added: “I hope this case reassures communities that we are committed to doing all we can to tackle this type of criminality. I also hope this sentencing demonstrates to other criminals trying to operate here, that Cheshire remains a hostile environment and will not be targeted.”

New police campaign takes off: Officers introduce high-tech approach to tackle illegal riding

First published on 15 September 2022 by Ben Clarke

Shot from above of Wales

Police in North Wales has issued a stark warning to those who use motorbikes in an illegal and anti-social way as part of a new initiative called Operation Blue Takeoff.  

Officers say they have been inundated with complaints about motorcycles being ridden dangerously on pavements and through side streets in the region. The new scheme aims to combat the issue. 

“The main aim of Op Blue Takeoff is to target motorcyclists riding illegally, to prevent risk to the public and to protect them against fatal injuries,” said Inspector Matt Subacchi of North Wales Police.  

“Off-road bikes can pose a very real threat of danger to any member of the public in the vicinity and indeed the riders themselves. We understand the frustration that they cause within our communities, and we will continue our efforts to crack down on this anti-social behaviour.” 

North Wales Police drone set up

As part of Operation Blue Takeoff, intercept officers and the off-road motorcycle team target specific areas identified as being prone to illegal bike riding. The drone team also pitch in using special drones which are hard to spot from the ground. The operation is ongoing but officers say they have already carried out 13 motorcycle stop/checks as well as issuing advice around road safety. 

Unlike operations in some other areas, North Wales Police believe the best way to deal with the problem of illegal and anti-social riding is by taking a high-tech approach to surveillance and identification of the bikes concerned and their riders. 

Flintshire North Inspector Steve Roberts, who is also involved with the operation, added: “My message to those who use off-road motorcycles illegally is simple, ‘the first time you know you have been caught riding your motorbike illegally will be when we turn up and seize it. Don’t expect to have your bike returned’.” 

Knife-wielding bike thief jailed: Cardiff thug sentenced to nine years after threatening teen

First published on 12 September 2022 by Ben Clarke

Luke patterson mugshot on top of image of prison cell being locked

An 18-year-old who stole a bike at knifepoint has been sentenced to nine years in a young offenders institution in South Wales.  

Luke Paterson, who is from Grangetown in the south of Cardiff, threatened a 17-year-old on the evening of Boxing Day last year, telling him that he would be stabbed if he did not hand over his motorbike.  

Paterson took the bike from the terrified teenager in the Roath area of the city. It was later recovered, but not before it had sustained damage. 

In an earlier offence, Paterson stole a bag from a man in his twenties, again threatening him with a knife. The court heard that this victim suffered a dislocated shoulder and substantial bruising to his face and eye, which continues to cause him pain. Paterson pleaded guilty to both offences before being sentenced. 

Luke Paterson mugshot

“Both victims and witnesses have been hugely affected by the unprovoked and violent actions of Luke Paterson,” said Detective Sergeant Amanda Newman. “We hope this significant sentence reassures them and the wider community. 

“South Wales is a safe place to live, to work and to be, but we will never be complacent, and tackling the harm that knife crime and serious violence cause is an absolute priority for South Wales Police. 

“We urge parents, carers and teachers to speak to young people about the dangers of carrying a knife. While we know it can be difficult to speak up if you think someone is carrying a knife, by doing so you can help ensure that weapon can’t be used to cause serious injury, or worse.” 

In an attempt to eradicate this type of crime, South Wales Police are running a #NotTheOne campaign aiming to educate young people on the dangers of carrying a knife and working with parents, teachers and community groups to that end. To learn more visit www.nottheone.co.uk 

Busy summer for Op Yellowfin: Humberside cops promise to keep up fight against bike theft

First published on 1 September 2022 by Ben Clarke

Operation Yellowfin team stop a scooter

Humberside Police’s dedicated anti-bike crime initiative, Operation Yellowfin, says it has had a busy summer fighting theft and related criminal activity.

MCN reported earlier this month that a petition had been started by bikers in the area demanding more funding for the operation and tougher sentencing for offenders. Now, the force’s PC Adam Barley has spoken of the hard work already taking place in the area. 

“Throughout the summer, our local teams have been receiving information from the public about the ongoing issues of nuisance motorcycles and associated criminality,” he said. 

Stolen scooter recovered by Operation Yellowfin

“In the past few weeks alone, officers have recovered several stolen bikes and seized bikes which were being ridden in an antisocial way. “The problems of criminals stealing bikes continues to be something we are sadly having reported all too often.” 

According to Humberside Police, the types of bikes most often stolen in the region are 50-125cc because they’re the most abundant and easiest to move around. This is affecting owners who are often young and using bikes as their only form of transport. Without them, they can’t do their jobs or get to college or work.  

PC Barley continued: “It’s not fair on those honest owners who have their bikes stolen. We will do what we can to find their bikes and always encourage people to report any thefts. Don’t think we won’t do anything about it, we will do everything we can to find the offender and to recover the bike.”

Bike seized by Operation Yellowfin

“We, as much as you, know the injustice of someone stealing your bike and want to help those riders in the significant majority who do things the right way,” he continued.

“We support our motorcycling communities who obtain a driving licence, insurance and an MoT and ride their bikes with care and consideration.” 

Police theft response ‘unacceptable and unsustainable’: Damning report could lead to better outcomes for victims

First published on 9 August 2022 by Ben Clarke

chief constable andy cooke

A report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has concluded that the police response to burglary, robbery and theft must improve.  

The report follows an investigation into the police’s handling of ‘serious acquisitive crime’ – a category that includes motorbike theft – which found that forces are missing opportunities to identify and catch offenders from the moment a crime is reported to the time a case is closed. 

“Burglary, robbery and theft are not minor crimes,” said Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke. “They are crimes that strike at the heart of how safe people feel in their own homes or communities.  

“The low charge rates for these crimes are unacceptable – there needs to be a concerted drive to address this issue because it directly affects the public’s confidence in the police’s ability to keep them safe.” 

police station sign

The HMICFRS investigation also discovered that in 71% of cases, police didn’t give victims any advice on crime-scene preservation during the initial call, meaning key evidence could be lost. It also found that almost half of investigations failed to meet the Victim’s Code (a set of statutory rights for the victims of crime in England and Wales). 

Cooke added: “A lack of experienced officers means that too often, these crimes are being investigated poorly and are not adequately supervised – often because supervisors themselves are inexperienced and overstretched. 

“We found that some police forces are working hard to tackle these crimes and uncovered some excellent examples of innovative and effective practice. We hope that other forces will follow these examples.” 

HMICFRS has recommended that by March 2023, all police forces should ensure that their crime scene management practices adhere to the authorised professional practice on managing investigations for burglary, robbery, and theft and that these investigations are subject to effective supervision and direction. 

Petition calls for tougher sentencing: Thousands sign up in a bid to properly punish bike thieves

First published on 17 August 2022 by Ben Clarke

Operation Yellowfin operates across the Humberside region

A petition has been launched on the Change.org website calling for tougher sentences for bike thieves. The petition was started by Hull biker, Xander James, and has already amassed almost 2500 signatures – and there is still time for you to add your name./

Along with tougher sentencing, Xander wants to see Humberside Police’s Operation Yellowfin receive more support from the Government.

“I’ve never personally had a bike stolen, but I’ve met a fair few who have,” James told MCN. “I can see online it’s happening daily, it’s pushing our premiums up and it’s really sad to see. Fortunately, I’m in a position where it wouldn’t affect me as much, but unfortunately there’s lots of people out there that it does. So, I thought that something needs to be sorted.

Operation Yellowfin bike amnesty

“With the cost of living so high, many of us can’t afford to keep replacing property that is targeted by thieves, along with this we can’t even safely park our vehicles outside our home, workplace or practically any public space without an ever-increasing risk of theft.”

Operation Yellowfin is a Humberside Police operational initiative which was launched in Hull in 2018 to tackle motorcycle crime and anti-social behaviour.

Chief Inspector Paul Gladstone from Humberside Police said: “Front-line officers throughout the force continue to work alongside CID and our intelligence units to gather information about people we suspect of carrying out illegal motorcycle activity and associated anti-social behaviour.

“To tackle any emerging illegal motorcycle activity, we conduct enforcement weeks of action. These are very successful and have brought into custody a number of offenders and have seized dozens of stolen bikes.”

Sign the petition here.

Stopping power: South Yorks Police deploy tactical contact to nab suspects

First published on 9 August 2022 by Ben Clarke

Image of dashcam footage of potential suspects

Police in South Yorkshire has released dashcam footage of the moment they used ‘tactical contact’ to stop two suspects on motorbikes at a petrol station. 

The video was taken on July 30 after plain clothes officers spotted three off-road bikes being ridden on pedestrian walkways and pavements at speed around Sheffield. Two of the bikes had no reg plates. 

Officers found the riders refuelling at a petrol station on Dyche Lane, Coal Aston at 6:20pm and swooped onto the forecourt. Two of the riders tried to flee the scene but were knocked off the bikes as officers used tactical contact.

“Off road bikes are one of the biggest concerns to our communities,” said Roads Policing Inspector Craig Clifton of South Yorkshire Police. “We are a privileged force to have a full-time Off Road Bike Intervention Team but tackling this criminality doesn’t stop there. Specialist roads policing pro-active officers and teams from across the force are also tackling the associated crimes and anti-social behaviour. 

“We hear time and time again from our communities that the riders are ‘not causing any harm’ or ‘just having fun’ but this isn’t the case. These riders have the capability to cause serious or fatal harm to pedestrians, and other road users, as well as damaging infrastructure and farmers’ livelihoods.” 

Two of the riders were detained and a 21-year-old man has been reported on summons on suspicion of driving while disqualified and with no insurance to appear at court at a later date.

The moment undercover police stopped illegal riders

Inspector Clifton added: “We have seen a rise in such vehicles being used to facilitate serious crime. As always we continue to clamp down on those who use the road network, in whatever vehicle they may be in to commit criminality. We will be firm, we will be strong, as this type of behaviour will not be tolerated.” 

Newcastle’s ‘bike crime emergency’: City chiefs call for drones to tackle riders on stolen machines

First published on 05 August 2022 by Ben Clarke

Seized Scooter in Newcastle

Antisocial and illegal riding, alongside motorcycle theft, have come under the spotlight in Newcastle. 

“Colleagues across the council will be aware of a collision between a motorcycle and a pedestrian on the evening of Monday, 13 June,” Cllr Jason Smith told a recent meeting of the city council. “The accident resulted in two primary school children being hospitalised.  

“Sadly, this shocking incident was not totally unexpected. Residents have been warning the police about this for some time.” 

Profile of Jason Smith

Cllr Smith then read several anonymised residents’ statements, including one that complained that those riding the bikes “appear to be above the law” and asked: “What the hell is it going to take? Someone getting knocked over by one of these people? One of them getting injured if they take a turn too fast? Or will it take some of the locals who are sick of it all taking matters into their own hands?” 

Cllr Smith conceded that the police are taking action by making arrests and issuing summons, various warnings and community protection notices, seizing motorbikes, dispersal orders, identifying petrol stations whre riders are fuelling up and speaking with landowners. But, he said, “none of this is working.” 

The original motion before the city council also contains details of a family who had lost five legitimately owned motorbikes to theft after suffering repeated threats and intimidation. 

Illegal off road motorcycle seized by police

Cllr Smith added: “When reasonable, law-abiding residents talk about taking the law into their own hands, we should all take notice and be concerned.” 

As a result of the motion the council will now write to the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner demanding that police prioritise the issue – including the use of the police helicopter to chase suspects. They’ll also chase up the drones they were promised last year and ask Home Secretary Priti Patel to ‘ensure that Northumbria Police has the powers it needs to take action against crime using motorbikes’. 

Police warning to Cambs bikers: Terrifying spike in bike thefts across county prompts action

First published on 27 July 2022 by Ben Clarke

motorcycle lock and chain with cover

Cambridgeshire Police have issued a warning to bikers after a shocking spike in thefts across the county, particularly in Cambridge itself.  

Between the beginning of June and July 5, 2022, there were 63 reported thefts across Cambridgeshire, of which 38 took place in the county’s capital.  

To put that into perspective, according to the latest figures available, Cambridgeshire reported just 200 stolen motorbikes for the whole of 2020, and 250 for the pre-pandemic year of 2019. This means that bike thefts in June were almost four times the monthly average in the county.  

lock chain cover campaign image

What’s more, the figure of 38 for the city of Cambridge alone is more than double the usual average for the entire county. 

“We’re seeing an increase in mopeds, scooters and motorbikes of all makes and models being taken from driveways, car parks and public places by simply being wheeled away,” said Detective Chief Inspector Alan Page. “Thieves only need a matter of seconds to steal a moped, scooter or motorcycle, especially if they are left with poor security.” 

Although this figure represents a spike in thefts, if these levels continued Cambridgeshire would become the second-worst police force area in the country for bike theft with a score of 38 stolen bikes per 1000 registered. Only London had a worse figure in the last reported statistics with 69 stolen bikes per 1000 registered.

Volunteer Police Officer finds abandoned scooter

Officers from the Cambridgeshire Constabulary are urging owners to review their motorbike security to help prevent further thefts.  

DCI Page added: “We’re asking people to ‘lock, chain and cover’. There are other measures that you can take, too, including fitting an alarm, marking parts of your bike to make them difficult for criminals to sell on, and keeping your bike in a garage, a shed or in a well-lit area with CCTV.” 

‘I knew that it was my machine’: 19-year-old tells TV show how he tracked down nicked KTM

First published on 21 July 2022 by Ben Clarke

Michelle's social post

Motorbike theft has featured on an episode of daytime BBC One TV show, Frontline Fightback, narrated by biker and ex-police officer Rav Wilding.  

In episode nine of the programme’s second series, we meet Adam Dean whose KTM 125 Duke was taken in broad daylight from outside his place of work in Southport, Merseyside. 

CCTV captured at the scene showed a number of individuals lift the bike into a van in a matter of seconds before it is driven away. Fearing that he might never see the bike again, Adam did what many in his situation do every day and took to social media for help.  

Stolen KTM Duke 125 parked up

After the post was shared and commented on hundreds of times in the coming days, Adam and his mum Michelle had a breakthrough. A bike like Adam’s had been spotted in nearby Kirby. 

“I knew from the sound of the bike as well as the stickers around the tyres that not many bikes have, as well as there’s all orange parts on the bike that make it stand out,” explains Adam in the show. “It was heart-breaking seeing other people enjoying what is mine. They did nothing to get that bike, they just quite happily put it in their van and took it, whereas I worked months just to afford it.” 

Adam, his mum, and brother decided to head to Kirby and see if they could spot the bike and it wasn’t long before it was ridden past them by three young lads. After the police were called, the bike was recovered.  

Michelle's social post

Since the theft, Adam has decided to fit a tracker and Frontline Fightback spoke to BikeTrac’s Bill Taylor about how they work.  

Taylor told MCN: “We’re very proud to be asked to feature in this TV show, but most importantly it’s a great educational piece for viewers with scooters or motorcycles.” 

Series two, episode nine of Frontline Fightback is available to view on BBC iPlayer now. 

Furious bikers take it to the top: Scottish group demand tactical contact to catch offenders

First published on 13 July 2022 by Ben Clarke

group of protesters at the event

A group of bikers held a protest at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh last week demanding that more be done to tackle bike theft in the capital city.  

“After weeks of thefts, armed robberies and assaults on motorcycle, scooter and e-bike riders – particularly tourists – frustration overspilled and some of us took to the Parliament,” said Olly who took part in the event. “We spoke with the supportive cops and got the press involved. Edinburgh is once again out of control with policies tying the hands of the police and lax sentencing ensuring repeat offenders get to be just that.” 

The group are calling for the Police to use tactical contact to stop offenders and for mandatory sentencing for those found guilty of motorcycle theft. 

Group of bikers and police men at the protest

Police insist they are doing their best. Superintendent Sam Ainslie from Police Scotland told MCN: “Many types of offending behaviour, including motorcycle crime, reduced dramatically during the pandemic… disappointingly we are now seeing this issue returning to pre-pandemic levels. 

“We have received a number of reports in recent weeks relating to the theft and reckless use of motorcycles across the city. This behaviour will not be tolerated, and working with partners, and Road Policing, we have co-ordinated plans in place as part of Operation Soteria, to proactively prevent [offences].” 

In addition, Edinburgh police continue to deploy Operation Orbit officers who are trained in the use of off-road bikes and can pursue suspects across hard-to-reach areas including the city’s parks if they attempt to flee the scene of an offence. 

Supt Ainslie added: “Road safety is one of our top priorities, and notwithstanding the risk these individuals pose to their own safety, they cause significant risk to pedestrians and other road users, and I wish to reassure the public that offenders will be dealt with.” 

Axe-wielding robber jailed: Moped-enabled thug behind bars after returning from Spain

First published on 6 July 2022 by Ben Clarke

Moped criminals on the prowl

The final member of a terrifying moped-enabled robbery gang has been jailed after returning to the UK to attend a funeral.  

Mark Toth, 37, of Shrewsbury Street, Kensington, was sentenced to a total of ten years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and remaining unlawfully at large when he appeared at Isleworth Crown Court. 

Toth and two co-offenders threatened their victim, a woman in her fifties, after approaching her on a moped in Chelsea. An axe was held against her neck during the incident, and she was put in a headlock and forced to the ground before Toth attempted to strangle her and removed her £25,000 Rolex Daytona watch. 

Thankfully, the victim did not suffer any serious physical injury, but the stolen watch has still not been recovered. 

Mugshot of Mark Toth

“This man has at last been jailed for this terrifying robbery,” said Detective Constable Peta Lundgren, who led the investigation. “The three suspects were quickly identified and two of them were arrested soon after the attack.  

“However, Toth although identified, evaded police by going on the run and fleeing the country following news of their arrests. 

“This sentence should serve as a warning to anyone concerned in serious criminality – we will investigate and will use every tool to find you and bring you to justice. We would again like to thank the victim for her cooperation during the investigation, and acknowledge her courage and bravery.” 

Toth was spotted in images on social media by officers in February and was found in a hotel room on Hanger Lane, Ealing. On arrest, Toth screamed “I’m unarmed” and when police entered the hotel room with a swipe key, with assistance from the staff, he tried and failed to break his phone in half before being put in handcuffs. 

Doing it for the kids: N.Ireland Police run six-week course for budding off-roaders

First published on 28 June 2022 by Ben Clarke

Motorbike youths line up to get ready for the riding course

Police in Northern Ireland have embarked on a project to engage with young people and teach them to use bikes safely and legally in a bid to reduce antisocial behaviour and crime. 

The Motorcycle Awareness Project (MAP) youth education programme got underway in May with participants – invited to the programme by local officers – who are young people already involved or viewed as at risk of becoming involved in illegal riding.  

There are also participants who simply don’t have the facilities that they need in their local area to ride legally. 

Motorcycle Awareness Project Mobile Resource Unit van

The MAP programme consists of 12 four-hour sessions over a six-week period on motorbikes specially adapted to reduce noise. It will teach riders the law around motorbikes and also covers the use of protective riding equipment. 

“The aim is to give our young people an opportunity to be professionally taught how to use these vehicles in a safe and controlled environment,” said Constable Chris Boyd from the Neighbourhood Policing Team, who has been influential in bringing the scheme to the area.  

“They will likely bring this knowledge back to their friends and family while adopting a more sensible and lawful attitude towards riding. It’s hoped that they will go on and encourage their peers with a view to getting involved in this fantastic sport at a competitive level.” 

Off road motorcycles used by the PSNI to teach youths

Constable Boyd pushed to run the scheme in his patch of Newtownabbey, County Antrim, after hearing of a similar pilot in Craigavon. He went along to see that scheme in action and was impressed with the results.  

He added: “We found the participants were engaged, enthusiastic and the skills that they learned over the weeks were being applied as if they had been doing this for years. I thought this would be something that could benefit many young people in our area.” 

MT-07 recovered in six minutes! Hampshire Police share results of latest bike crime campaign

First published on 23 June 2022 by Ben Clarke

Hampshite Police recover a motorbike in the middle of trees

Fitting a tracker is one of the best investments you can make in bike security, according to police in Southampton who’ve been making strides in cracking down on theft and nuisance riding. They got one bike back to its owner in double-quick time…  

Not only has the Hampshire force been stamping out motorcycle criminality and seizing nuisance bikes and those used in other crimes, they’ve also managed to recover a Yamaha MT-07 in just six minutes after it was reported stolen.  

The owner realised the Yamaha was missing and phoned police at 7.09pm, on June 4 and by 7.15pm it had been picked up by officers. A suspect was seen with the stolen vehicle but ran off after a group of teenage bystanders raised the alarm that the police were approaching. A second suspect on a white moped also fled the scene. 

“A big and powerful motorbike has been recovered and returned to the owner. It has some damage but nothing that can’t be repaired,” said a statement from Hampshire Police.  

“Top tip – invest in a tracker for your motorcycle. The owner of this motorbike said it was well worth the investment. Having gone from being reported stolen to being recovered by officers within six minutes with only a little damage done, we’d agree.” 

In other news, the force also seized a scooter that had been involved in several attempted robberies and thefts in the area. They also worked hard to recover a stolen Honda CB400 from woodland where it had been dumped on June 7. 

In a further incident, a pursuit was brought to a dramatic end when tactical contact was used to stop a suspect who was riding at excessive speed and failing to stop for officers.  

Police had been called after reports of two people on a bike armed with a sledgehammer and trying to steal other bikes. The pair turned out to be riding a stolen motorbike themselves.

‘You are not crime numbers’: South Yorkshire Police’s plea to keep reporting bike thieves

First published on 15 June 2022 by Ben Clarke

South Yorkshire Police have admitted they’re facing a wave of bike thefts. The force took the opportunity to make the admission in a statement while announcing that they had recovered two stolen scooters at the start of June.   

“Genuinely, we understand the frustration shared by victims of bike theft/crime. We are also victims,” said specialist officers from the SYP Off Road team. “Please be assured you are not crime numbers, but people affected by crime. Often your bike is not just a mode of transport it is a passion a part of who you are and we do get that.   

“Do we have enough resources? No. Do we have a team dedicated to trying to stop it? Yes. Do we always get it right? No. Do we do our best with what we have? Yes. 

“You the public, are victims of crime, please don’t shut us out and dismiss the police in general, [or think] that we won’t do anything to help. It may feel like that at times but there is always more happening than you think.”   

May was a busy month for South Yorkshire Police with 50 bikes stolen in May (up to Sunday, May 30) not including those found in the area having been stolen elsewhere.  

“The issue [of motorbike crime] is complex and the justice system is sometimes left wanting,” the statement continued.  

“Don’t lose all faith and please keep contacting us. Sometimes the most unassuming of information makes the difference. We want to make South Yorkshire a hostile place for bike thieves to operate in but we can’t do it alone.”  

To help the cause, the Off Road Team are soon to take delivery of eight Yamaha WRs. The bikes will allow officers to reach places a standard police bike can’t and continue tricky pursuits wherever suspects choose to go. 

Jail for Wiltshire bike criminal: Offender gets 14 months after taking two motocross bikes

First published on 10 June 2022 by Ben Clarke

A police operation in Wiltshire aimed at tackling a spate of motorcycle thefts is yielding results. Officers saw an increase in off-road machines being stolen from garages and sheds and Operation Fortitude was created to fight back.

As a result of the operation, Benjamin Harper, 25, of Hartcliffe in Bristol was apprehended and sentenced to 14 months in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of burglary. Harper stole two motocross bikes from securely locked sheds in the Trowbridge area in May last year.

“We know that these sorts of burglaries cause frustration, anger and financial harm to motorbike owners,” said PC Ben Williams from the Fortitude team. “We have been working hard to communicate with the motocross community to highlight the dangers of their bikes being targeted through social media, selling sites and bike shows.

“We would urge owners to be incredibly vigilant when attending these sorts of events or advertising bikes for sale over the internet or social media. Our advice would be to always be cautious, especially if you are trying to arrange to sell a bike, to make sure you aren’t inadvertently highlighting your valuable bike to potential criminals who might then try to steal it. The same goes for other vehicles, as well as scooters and pushbikes.”

Wiltshire Police continue to focus on bike thefts, but they are also calling on owners to do everything they can to dissuade the thieves and make their lives as difficult as possible.

PC Williams added: “If you own a valuable vehicle then please consider investing in a tracking device to attach to your hard-earned property.

“We want to help ensure your property is as secure as possible and, should the worst ever happen, you’ll have done everything within your power to ensure your bike is located.”

New warning as thefts climb: Crime figures are on track for shocking 23% increase on 2021

First published on 1 June 2022 by Ben Clarke

Thieves stealing an MT-07

UK motorcycle thefts are on track to increase by 23% in 2022 if current trends continue for the rest of the year, according to police figures.  

In 2021 there were a total of 18,182 motorbikes reported stolen across the country. The figure for January to March 2022 came in at 5591, which would mean an annual figure of 22,364 should the trend continue. 

Equally worrying is the percentage of stolen bikes being recovered, which has dropped from 46.5% in 2021 to 36% in the first quarter of 2022.  

Motorbike thieves eyeing up a BMW

Private motorbike tracking companies have a recovery rate in the high 90% range and so the falling trend in recoveries suggests that either fewer stolen bikes are fitted with the units, or the number of bikes recovered by traditional means (without the use of trackers) has dropped.  

This is despite the hard work of volunteer organisations such as Biker Biker who harness the power of social media to get the word out and recover machines. 

“We are aware of concerns regarding motorcycle thefts and understand the distress and disruption this crime causes to victims,” a Home Office spokesperson told MCN.  

Motorcycles seized in Northumberland

“That is why we are working with the automotive industry and police to ensure that our response to vehicle crime is as strong as it can be. 

“We are also recruiting 20,000 extra police officers to protect communities and have set up the Safer Streets Fund to help prevent motorcycle theft from happening in the first place.” 

The Safer Streets Fund is a £75m pot of money that has been made available through a bidding process to Police & Crime Commissioners, Local Authorities, and the British Transport Police. The money is intended to help target and prevent neighbourhood crime (including vehicle theft), anti-social behaviour and violence against women and girls. The bidding process closed on May 13, 2022. 

Affordable new trackers arrive: Essex garage hits the market with security tech for all bikers

First published on 25 May 2022 by Ben Clarke


Essex-based workshop, Mad Slick Motorcycles, has launched its very own GPS tracker and smartphone app, which lets you see where your bike is in real-time and immobilise the engine remotely if it is being stolen.  

The tracker uses the 4G network and costs £120 for parts and fitment at the Benfleet workshop with an ongoing cost of £5 per month. Extra bikes add £2 per month each to the bill and there’s no contract so you can cancel whenever you like. 

“I’d been working on building our own platform for a while and then when I heard the 2G network is being switched off I thought, ‘well now is the time to get my foot in the door’,” Mad Slick owner Kieran Donnelly-Shard told MCN. “From day one we wanted to make tracker technology something everyone could have, not just a luxury product if you could afford it.  

“We fit trackers to lots of small bikes and delivery scooters; the type of vehicles people need to earn a living.” 

So, how does it work? Well, if your bike is stolen, Mad Slick advise that you call them on their 24-hour helpline.  


“Although the customer can immobilise the bike themselves, we advise that they call us so we can do it,” Donnelly-Shard continued. “There are two reasons for this; one is that we can wait until the bike is stationary before immobilising it to minimise risk, the other is that we can communicate with the police or our recovery partners, Biker Biker, to make sure that there is a plan in place for after the bike is stopped. 

“Stolen bikes are often stashed around the corner to check if they are tracked and if that happens, they are easy enough to recover. But if the thieves do manage to get away with your bike, they’ll have to rewire the whole thing to get around the immobiliser making it pretty much worthless to them.” 

Going the extra mile 

Kieran really puts his money where his mouth is when it comes to helping out the biking community. As well as the tracker service, Mad Slick offer free storage for stolen/recovered machines and a free ignition repair service if your bike was hotwired. And the best bit is you don’t even need to be a tracker customer. Kieran explained: “If the barrel is damaged, I’ll source a new one and charge for the cost of it, but I’ll fit it for free. It’s not a big job for me but can make a massive difference to a victim.” 

‘You will be found’: West Midlands Police warning to illegal electric bike riders

First published on 16 May 2022 by Ben Clarke


Police in the West Midlands have employed the use of DNA tagging spray to fight an epidemic of illegal electric off-road motorbikes and E-bikes in Birmingham.  

In one incident last month, the force deployed traffic officers, a dog unit, neighbourhood teams, drones, the police helicopter and more to track riders who were ‘tearing up streets and pedestrianised areas’ and threatening to disrupt an organised charity bike ride. 

Four electric bikes were seized for being ridden without insurance and two people were arrested for a range of offences including failing to stop, dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified and possession of drugs. 

West Midlands Police seized four bikes

Electric bicycles can be ridden legally on the road but they must have bicycle-style pedals, produce no more than 250W and have a motor cut-off at 15.5mph. If the bike breaks any of these rules, it qualifies as either an electric motorcycle or electric moped and must have a registration, tax, insurance and be ridden by a qualified rider. 

“Our efforts to tackle off-road bikers and those who pose a danger to others forms part of a commitment to protect the public and prevent crime, and the use of DNA spray and stinger devices and teamwork is really making a positive difference,” said Sergeant John Cartmell of the WMP Traffic Unit. 

“As well as the DNA spray being used, about £20,000 worth of electric off-road bikes were seized. Our message to illegal off-road bikers is simple – if you are using the roads to commit traffic offences and behaving anti-socially on an off-road bike, you will be found. 

“It’s not about ruining people’s fun. Illegal off-roading causes damage to parks and open spaces in the West Midlands and riders are putting themselves and members of the public at risk when they ride off-road bikes in inappropriate areas, like parks and on the pavement.” 

Reckless teen gets six months: Detention and 15-month ban for offender on stolen moped

First published 6 May 2022 by Ben Clarke

Handcuffed suspect

A 16-year-old youth in Surrey has been disqualified from driving for 15 months as well as receiving a six-month detention and training order after being arrested in Woking in November 2021. The teenager – who cannot be named for legal reasons – was spotted by officers overtaking two cars on a moped before failing to stop for them.

During the ensuing chase, the boy rode recklessly at speed on the wrong side of the road, putting others and himself in danger.

Police abandoned the pursuit for safety reasons but the teen was later spotted in the same area, apprehended and arrested. The moped he was riding turned out to have been reported stolen, which might explain why he was so keen to get away.

At the end of last year, the rider pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking whilst driving dangerously, driving whilst disqualified and driving without insurance before being sentenced in January this year.

Police followed the rider before making an arrest

“This reckless behaviour put innocent members of the public in real danger and our officers worked hard to locate the offender and make sure he was arrested and charged,” said PC Nick Swann of Surrey Police.

“We will always put the safety of the public first when conducting pursuits but, as this case highlights, even if we have to abort a high speed chase we will use every other means available to us to locate offenders and arrest them.

“Surrey Police is committed to targeting moped-related crime within the county, and this case highlights the results that are being achieved within the local area.

“If local communities have any concerns relating to vehicle crime, please contact us via our website, direct message on our social media channels, or by calling 101. In an emergency, always dial 999.”

Biker Biker star on TV show: Crime-busters feature in new series presented by Rav Wilding

First published 27 April 2022 by Ben Clarke

Ex-cop and TV presenter Rav Wilding

Volunteer stolen motorcycle recovery group, Biker Biker, have featured in a BBC television show presented by passionate biker, Rav Wilding.

Scam Interceptors is a new programme in which former police officer Wilding works with ethical hackers to uncover scams, thefts and frauds. As part of the show, the team shines a spotlight on community groups and volunteers that work to help the victims of crime, which is where Biker Biker come in.

“A real issue plaguing our streets and towns is motorcycle theft,” says Wilding during Episode 6 of the show. 

“Re-uniting people with stolen motorbikes takes passion, dedication and a lot of detective work, something this bunch of people have by the bucket load. But as we’re about to find out, their interceptions don’t come without risks.”

In case you’re not familiar with Biker Biker, the volunteer organisation uses a Facebook page where theft victims can post details of their machines. Users can also notify the group when they see suspicious or abandoned bikes so that they can be investigated.

Once the group has confirmation from the police that the bike is indeed reported stolen, they either wait with it until officers can attend or collect it themselves while the police contact the registered keeper.

Biker Biker founder Shane meets Wilding on the show to explain in more detail. He adds: “We’re not replacing the police, the police have a million different calls for a million different things, they’ve got a
lot on their plate. 

“We have 22 groups around the country and I vet every one of them personally, so we have no vigilante behaviour. I’m not some kind of vigilante on a warpath and I’m very stringent on procedure.”

See what else Shane had to say by watching the episode for yourself now on BBC iPlayer. Just search for Scam Interceptors.

Eleven years for machete attacker: Violent offender behind bars after argument over scooter

First published 19 April 2022 by Ben Clarke

Curtis Pettman has been jailed for 11 years

A 23-year-old man has been jailed for 11 years after what has been described in court as an “extremely violent” and “senseless” machete attack that followed an argument over a moped. Curtis Pettman, of no fixed address, seriously injured his victim in Margate, Kent, last July and was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday, April 1.

The day before the attack, three people tried to steal the victim’s moped elsewhere in the town. Believing that Pettman was involved, the victim went to a property in Denton Way the following day to challenge him.

During the ensuing argument, Pettman took the keys of the victim’s moped and threw them onto a nearby roof. Then, a dog ran from the property where Pettman was staying and bit the victim in the leg.

Pettman went back into the property and returned with a 50cm machete, which he swung at the victim six or seven times. The victim was forced to use his hand to protect himself, suffering serious injuries in the process.

Curtis Pettman mugshot

Despite initially Pettman fleeing the scene, Kent Police were able to track him down and make an arrest the same day. Investigators then used a bloodstained dressing gown he had been wearing at the time of the attack to link him to the scene and he later pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent and possession of an offensive weapon.

“This was an extremely violent attack which could easily have left the victim with even more serious injuries than the life-changing wounds he sustained,” said Detective Inspector Stefanie Earl, of East Kent CID.

“Pettman intentionally chose this highly dangerous weapon to launch a senseless attack on the victim of this crime.

“I am pleased the sentence handed down will mean he is unable to offend and impact any further victims for a considerable period of time.”

A busy shift for off-road officers: South Yorkshire Police out in force to tackle motorbike crime

First published on 6 April 2022 by Ben Clarke

South Yorkshire Police bikes with a seized pitbike

Police officers working as part of the South Yorkshire Off Road Team had a busy weekend at the end of March recovering stolen motorbikes, alongside tackling illegal and anti-social riding.

Following reports of illegal activity in the Batemoor and Jordanthorpe areas of Sheffield, members of the team headed out on their own off-road motorcycles to investigate.

The officers were soon passed by an adult male riding a black Sur-Ron electric motorbike and were interested in speaking to the rider. The £4500 machine matched the description of bikes stolen in the preceding months in Sheffield. Unfortunately, the rider escaped through a field full of children and the police riders deemed it too dangerous to follow.

While searching a nearby village for this suspect, officers discovered another man riding a pitbike on a main road with no helmet, licence, numberplate or insurance. The bike was seized.

A Suzuki V-Strom reported stolen and recovered by SYP

Then, on the same shift, the officers recovered a Suzuki V-Strom 650 that had been stolen six weeks earlier by thieves who used an angle grinder to cut off the lock. This bike had been spotted in the commission of further crimes in other parts of Sheffield since it was stolen but is now out of the hands of criminals.

“We are seeing an increase in bikes being stolen at present,” said the SYP Off Road Team, who offered the following advice to owners: “If you have to park on the street then make sure you have decent locks on and park under CCTV cameras if possible.

“If you have a track bike, then don’t stick Fox Racing stickers all over your van because this will make you more of an obvious target to thieves.

“Do a few laps of your estate before going home to make sure you’re not followed. Don’t plaster your bike all over social media – thieves watch this, do a bit of Google Maps searching, locate your house then steal your bike.”

Armed moped thief behind bars: Serial offender jailed after arranging ambush of bike seller

First published on 6 April 2022 by Ben Clarke

McKenna after his arrest

The orchestrator of an armed moped robbery in Manchester has been jailed for six years after pleading guilty to two counts of robbery and one of dangerous driving.

Aaron McKenna, 19, of Ridgeway Street, Manchester arranged to meet his victim – who had advertised a moped for sale on Facebook Marketplace – at a property in the Miles Platting area in May 2020.

The victim was then ambushed and threatened by a large group of armed assailants who stole the moped. The victim fled the scene but recorded the details that McKenna had used to arrange the meeting. This information would later prove that McKenna was the instigator of the robbery.

Around one year later, McKenna was involved in a second crime where a car owner was punched and kicked to the ground when returning to their parked vehicle, which was then stolen.

He and a teenager (who cannot be named for legal reasons) also drove the stolen car at passers-by who had stopped to help. McKenna initially fled to Dubai but was arrested and charged when he returned a few days later.

Greater Manchester Police are making great progress

As well as six years for the car robbery, McKenna was sentenced to five years and two months for stealing the moped and six months for dangerous driving to run concurrently. He was disqualified from driving for 63 months.

“These were violent and terrifying robberies for both the victims and will no doubt have had a lasting impact on their lives,” said Detective Constable Benjamin John of GMP’s Operation Valiant Team. “I am glad we have been able to secure a conviction for McKenna today and I hope this will provide those victims with a sense of justice.

“We are committed to ensuring the streets of Greater Manchester are kept safe and no one should go about their day-to-day life feeling fearful or like they may be at risk of criminal behaviour.”

Kickstarting brighter futures: Group works to get young people biking safely and legally

First published 30 March 2022 by Ben Clarke

Team Kickstart offer opportunities for young people to take up biking

A charity that aims to steer young people away from motorbike-related criminality has been praised by West Yorkshire Police.

Team KickStart has been gathering momentum since it started in the Ashbrow Ward area of Huddersfield in 2021 and now works with around 100 teens who have an interest in bikes – teaching them to ride safely and legally and develop their servicing and engineering skills.

The project was started by locals Joy Edwards and Junior Montano and provides a regular meeting place where young people can gather and learn safe riding skills from qualified professionals with the aim of getting a CBT in the future.

“Having attended the first event in April last year I was extremely impressed with how Joy and Junior brought the community together and then continued to push forward with their vision of removing off-road bikes from the streets and providing young people with skills that they can develop and use in future careers,” said Inspector Graham Dyson of the Huddersfield Neighbourhood Policing Team.

Young people are taught to ride and work on their bikes

“This is the real essence of a community where people like Joy and Junior make that initial difference and are determined to make their community safer.

“I am so grateful for their community work and I know that we have a fantastic partnership where we can help young people, divert them away from crime, gangs and violence and bring them together to develop their own skills.”

Project co-founder Joy Edwards has been really pleased with the reaction she’s had from local residents and the teens that are getting involved. She added: “I want to give a huge shoutout to our volunteers and the friends we’ve made on our journey, as well as the local partnerships who have supported us. We are in talks to find a new plot of land we can utilise for activities and are reaching out to more schools.”

Cops launch theft crackdown: Operation in Essex leads to arrests and six vehicle seizures

First published 23 March 2022 by Ben Clarke

Essex Police make an arrest

Essex Police have released a short video showing the work being done by officers to combat motorcycle theft.

The footage shows some of the activity undertaken by an operation involving 16 special constables and four regular officers – including two on motorcycles – in and around Thurrock.

The team set out to specifically target areas where bike thefts and anti-social behaviour had been reported.

In part of the video, officers pursue a man with no helmet who is riding a stolen motorbike with no number plate. He is then boxed in by two unmarked police cars, and dumps the machine on a pavement before making off on foot.

He then runs across a playing field, through a football match, before officers make an arrest. The man was found to be in possession of a substantial quantity of drugs. It later transpired he had given his brother’s name to police as he had absconded from prison in June 2021.

In all, six vehicles were seized and three arrests were made as a result of the police action. Other successes saw the recovery of a Range Rover reported stolen the previous day, and an arrest after a car with cloned number plates was pulled over at Lakeside.

Watch the video for yourself here:

“We’ve had a successful day with the three arrests we’ve made for the theft of vehicles and the stolen vehicles we’ve recovered,” said Acting Special Sergeant Andy Hartigan.

“We’ve also issued several community warnings around off-road bikes and the use of quads off-road as anti-social and irresponsible driving has a massive impact on the community.

“It puts the safety of people using public spaces at risk and usually these motorcycles are unlicensed and uninsured.

“Today showed how serious we are about tackling vehicle crime and anti-social behaviour and dealing with the individuals responsible for it.”

Defending our biking heritage: Beaulieu team up with Tracker to protect historic machines

First published on 11 March 2022 by Ben Clarke

Motorcycle display at the National Motor Museum

The National Motor Museum has announced a security partnership with Tracker Network UK to make sure their collection of rare motorcycles, cars and memorabilia stays where it should be. The museum in Beaulieu, Hampshire, boasts a large collection of racing and road machines.

“At Beaulieu we have the ultimate privilege of being home to some of the most iconic examples of worldwide automotive design,” said Museum Manager and Chief Engineer, Doug Hill.

“With that privilege comes the responsibility of protecting these priceless vehicles. Tracker’s police partnership combined with its technology, gives us the peace of mind that we are safeguarding our collection.”

The Tracker system combines VHF with GPS/GSM, making its devices resistant to GPS/GSM jamming. This keeps a stolen vehicle visible to police at all times, whether it’s stashed in an underground car park, a lock-up or even a shipping container heading abroad.

Iconic race bikes at the National Motor Museum

Individual Tracker systems can also speak to each other via the Mesh Network, adding another layer of security.

When a vehicle fitted with a Tracker unit passes another Tracker equipped vehicle that has been reported stolen, the network listens and automatically sends a silent signal to Tracker’s HQ and the police, providing a location. And to top it all off, Tracker detection units are fitted in over 2000 police patrol vehicles and throughout the national fleet of police helicopters.

Clive Wain, Head of Police Liaison at Tracker, added: “Classic vehicles are a lucrative market for crime gangs and thieves who steal to order. However, many of these older vehicles lack today’s security systems and identification marks, which makes them particularly vulnerable. Our solutions overcome these security weaknesses.”

Knife-wielding criminal is jailed: Moped-mounted Rolex theft gang member gets four years

First published on 1 March 2022 by Ben Clarke

Wayne Russell

A man has been jailed for his part in a moped-enabled smash and grab robbery in London’s Regent Street in 2018. Wayne Russell, 23, of no fixed address, was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery at Southwark Crown Court. He was also sentenced to 16 months for possession of an offensive weapon, to run concurrently.

Russell and five other men arrived at a top-end watch shop, Watches of Switzerland, on three mopeds and a motorcycle before using one of the mopeds to block the front doors of the shop. Three of the men then rushed in armed with sledgehammers and attacked five display cases. In total, they stole 35 Rolex watches worth a combined £440,000.

Russell waited outside armed with a ‘zombie knife’ (a large weapon incorporating a bladed edge and a serrated edge – in case you were wondering…) and acted as a lookout, preventing security or members of the public from getting involved.

Wayne Russel

All six men fled on the vehicles when a security alarm sounded, and were chased by a passing police unit who saw what was happening, but Russell got away. CCTV from the area showed him removing his gloves, putting his jacket in a bin and then walking into the Five Guys restaurant on Argyll Street. He was later arrested, in 2020, following a media appeal.

“This was a brazen robbery which not only left the store significantly out of profit but also left staff fearing for their lives,” said Detective Sergeant Gary Taylor, from the Metropolitan Police’s Central Specialist Crime unit.

“I hope this result demonstrates our commitment to tackling violent crime and disrupting criminal gangs who think they can get away with this kind of behaviour. We will do everything in our power to identify those involved and bring them to justice so that they can cause no further harm on the streets of the capital.”

Violent thugs defeated by van: Jail for knife-wielding bike thieves who crashed in getaway

First published on 23 February 2022 by Ben Clarke

Fretwell and Edgar

Two men have been jailed after they crashed the stolen motorcycle they were riding, sustaining serious injuries that required hospital treatment in the process.

Tristan Fretwell, 25, and Connor Edgar, 20, ploughed into the back of a stationary van after slashing a man in his twenties and stealing his motorcycle in Mansfield. The violent thugs broke into their victim’s house and attacked the occupant with a knife, leaving him with wounds on his body.

Fretwell and Edgar left the scene on the stolen machine but collided with a delivery van waiting at a set of traffic lights up the road – both required extensive hospital treatment for their injuries. Fretwell, of Haydn Road, Sherwood, later pleaded guilty to charges of robbery and wounding with intent for his part in the crime. Edgar, of Ryton Square, Aspley, pleaded guilty to robbery, wounding without intent and dangerous driving.

Appearing at Nottingham Crown Court in January, Fretwell was jailed for six years and nine months while Edgar was sentenced to two years and eight months in a young offenders’ institution.

Conner Edgar (left) and Tristan Fretwell

“This was a very serious collision involving two young men who had moments before committed an extremely violent offence,” Detective Inspector Gayle Hart, of Nottinghamshire Police said after the sentences had been handed down.

“After smashing their way in though a back door they first threatened the victim with a knife before chasing him around the street outside. During the attack the victim sustained some nasty cuts that could easily have been a lot worse.

“The subsequent crash was extremely serious in nature and both Fretwell and Edgar were lucky to escape with their lives. I am pleased they have now been brought to justice and hope they use their time behind bars to re-evaluate their lives and change their behaviour for the better.”

Brit firm bring a touch of Batcave-style tech to bike security

First published on 14 February 2022

Bault SOS bike security bunker closing

If you’re looking for secure bike storage with a touch of theatrical panache then look no further than the Bault, an automated, sunken bike locker that would fit right into any Bond or Batman film.

The Bault is the brainchild of Mark Duffy, who had the idea while watching his kids playing. “I just thought they’d have a lot more room to run around and have fun if the garage was underground and the idea grew from there,” Duffy told MCN.

So, how does it work? Well the first step is for Mark to visit your intended site with scanning equipment to make sure there are no underground cables or pipework in the way.

Bault SOS bike security bunker closed

Once that is done, excavation can begin with two holes needed, one for the Bault and one for the motor which raises and lowers the mechanism.

“We wanted to make sure if there was a problem with the motor in the future then it could be sorted easily,” explains Duffy, who has a background in offshore engineering.

“Once the hole is ready we put in a concrete base and then drop the Bault in. We never hang anything from a customer’s garage roof or brace against the walls, we have a system to carry it in safely.”

Bault SOS bike security bunker closing

The Bault itself has been  analysed and the walls and door can withstand four tonnes. The whole thing takes around six weeks to manufacture and then installation is three to four days.

Once the Bault is in place, the whole thing is encased in concrete to make it secure and keep out moisture. Finally, the top is levelled with the surrounding floor for a flush finish. And you’re ready to store your bike in its own underground lair.

So, how much does all of this cost? Well, there’s no easy way to say this: £20,900 plus VAT. And it only holds one bike. Obviously it’s not going to be for everyone at that cost, but any budding Bruce Waynes can find out more at Bault SOS website.

Or fit a glass top and install one inside the house

For those who like the idea of the Bault but don’t want to hide their pride and joy away, Duffy has a version in the works that uses a glass top for a display case kind of effect.

In a mock-up you can see on the above video, the unit is installed in a kitchen so that you only need to look down to see your favourite or most prized motorcycle.

And of course, you’d still only be a push of a button away from bringing the bike up to ground level if you wanted to take it out for a ride or show it off to your mates.

Thief who nicked KTM sent to jail: Nine years for thief who used stolen bike in crime spree

First published 14 February 2022 by Ben Clarke

Jacob Winnett

A prolific burglar who used motorbikes to target 17 premises and stole a brand-new KTM has been jailed for more than nine years. Jacob Winnett from Rochester targeted properties in Gillingham, Higham, Gravesend, Shorne and Rochester mostly in daylight hours.

CCTV led police to search Winnett’s property in November 2019 where they found and seized many items linking him to the crimes including two motorcycle helmets, four balaclavas, a black bag containing two crowbars, gloves, multiple pairs of trainers, black tracksuits and a KTM, which was in the back of a van belonging to Winnett.

After being questioned, Winnett was released pending further investigation. Unbelievably, he was then captured on CCTV stealing the bike back from a vehicle recovery yard in Higham.

Winnett would go on to use the stolen KTM to continue his crime spree, and along with an unidentified man, attempted to burgle homes and broke into several more.

Officers from Kent Police carried out a second warrant at an address in Canterbury Street, Gillingham, where they seized more items belonging to Winnett as well as jewellery matching items reported stolen in the burglaries.

They also found evidence on Winnett’s mobile phone, which showed videos of a stolen Porsche along with his reflection in the car window.

“The impact of Winnett’s crimes was not only financial, but affected a number of the victims mentally, making them feel unsafe in their own homes, said investigating officer DC Colin Cherry from the Chief Constable’s Crime Squad.

“Winnett continued to offend even after being initially arrested and he showed no regard whatsoever for his victims and a scant regard for the law. I am pleased that the court has given Winnett a substantial sentence and I hope that it brings some justice to the victims.”

Jail for man found  with stolen KTM: Long list of offences leads to two years behind bars for thief

First published on 7 February 2022 by Ben Clarke

Christian Chauraya

A Leicestershire man has been jailed for two years after pleading guilty to a litany of offences including handling a stolen motorbike. Christian Chauraya, 21, of Rempstone Road, Belton, was brought to the attention of police after a member of the public reported that they believed him to be driving under the influence.

Officers from the local Roads Policing Unit saw him in a silver BMW the same afternoon and attempted to stop him.

Chauraya made off from officers, driving through Loughborough in a dangerous manner and narrowly avoiding several parked cars. At one point, he was recorded driving at 55mph in 30mph limit. The chase ended when Chauraya deserted the car and made a run for it, but he was caught and arrested shortly afterwards.

A search of his home address later led officers to a KTM displaying false plates, which had been reported as stolen from Earl Shilton, Leicestershire, in November last year.

In total, Chuaraya pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving without insurance, driving without a licence, failing to stop for police, handling stolen goods and being concerned in the supply of cannabis. In addition to the time in custody, the offender was also banned from driving for two years.

“Chauraya is a criminal who clearly has no regard for the public’s safety,” said investigating officer Detective Constable Chris Fox.

“He knew he was wanted and was prepared to put the lives of others at risk to try and evade police. I am grateful to my colleagues in the Roads Policing Unit whose good work led to his arrest. As part of the investigation, we found he was also involved in the supply of cannabis and handling of stolen goods.

“I hope the public can take some reassurance from the fact he is off our streets and is serving time in prison.”

Targeted patrols and ‘flash mobs’ deployed to fight motorbike theft

First Published 27 January 2022 by Ben Clarke

A seized motorcycle in Hampshire

Hampshire Police have pledged to continue the fight against motorbike theft and related crime into 2022 after a successful period at the end of last year.

Tactics include high-visibility patrols in hotspot locations, the deployment of specialist Roads Policing Units, working with Housing Associations to identify where particular bikes that are regularly being used for anti-social behaviour are being stored and working with the council and other land owners to make public footpaths and wooded areas harder to access.

“Reducing motorcycle nuisance is a local priority for us, as is preventing motorcycle theft,” said a statement from Hampshire Police.

“Over the last six months, we have been carrying out regular patrols and ‘flash mobs,’ which are targeted operations, to prevent offences taking place, and to gather intelligence to identify regular offenders.

“Our flash mobs have been very successful; this is where we have deployed a condensed police presence for 2-3 hours in a specific area identified as a hotspot by examining police reports and listening to the community to identify offenders, recover stolen vehicles and reduce incidents.

We let the community know about these operations by posting the details on our social media channels. We want to tell them what we’re doing with their information.

“Part of this work involves reducing motorcycle theft. We know many motorcycles used in anti-social manner are stolen and we’ve been working hard to recover bikes. We have recovered a number of stolen mopeds and motorcycles in the last two months, with a peak being 11 in a period of three weeks in November 2021.”

As part of the work on theft reduction, the force are also promoting security for bike owners such as using ground and wall anchor points, trackers and decent chains and locks.

Stolen bike back from Romania: Owner’s detective work rewarded as machine comes home

First published on 21 January 2022 by Ben Clarke

Kelston Chorley's AJP is now back safe in the UK

Kelston Chorley, the determined biker who traced his stolen AJP to Romania last year, has finally managed to bring his machine home.

For those who missed the story, the PR7 was pinched in July 2020 from Chorley’s garage in Oxford, but he was later made aware through a Facebook forum that the bike had been spotted for sale in Eastern Europe.

After flying out to Romania in 2021, Chorley approached local police and within 24 hours his bike had been tracked down and recovered. It was then stored at an AJP dealership while the long process of sorting out the paperwork and buying the bike back from insurers took place.

Now, in a new video posted to the Fit Bones YouTube channel, Chorley explains what happened next. “Finding [the bike] is one thing, bringing it back from Romania is a whole different task; the paperwork involved, dealing with the insurance companies, getting the salvage rights, making sure the documents are in your own name, making sure you have lots of the documents that were in Romanian translated. Lots of documents, lots of phone calls, lots of work,” he said.

Chorley flew back out to Bucharest and then made the onward journey to Brasov to meet up with the dealer and get the numberplate fixed to the bike ready for it to be transported back to the UK by van.

Finally, after flying back to the UK, Chorley was able to meet up with the van drivers and load the bike onto his own trailer. Despite thanking the police in Romania who really put themselves out and his insurers who eventually gave him salvage rights to buy the bike back, Chorley thinks more needs to be done to prevent this sort of crime.

He added: “The biking community has been very supportive, but I feel manufacturers and insurers need to work on finding solutions to the problems of theft.”

Jail for London ram-raid gang

First published on 13 January 2022 by Ben Clarke

London ram raid gang

Members of an organised crime group who used stolen motorbikes and cars during a series of audacious ram raids have been jailed. The men stole £465,000 in London’s West End before finally being tracked down by the Met’s Flying Squad.

During one of the burglaries in October, 2020, the men approached Moncler, a high-end ski and winter gear shop on Old Bond Street, London, on two motorbikes and in a car.

They smashed their way into the shop with a sledgehammer and stole a number of jackets, bags and other items of clothing before fleeing the scene.

One of the motorbikes was abandoned and was later found to be stolen. This bike proved useful to police as it held DNA evidence that linked one of the gang, Omar Bakali, 28, from Kilburn, to the Moncler break-in.

He received four years and four months imprisonment for his part in the raids. Martin Dunne, 37, of Waltham Abbey, was sentenced to three years while Jamie Claydon, 28, of Newbourne, Suffolk, was sentenced to two years, suspended for two years.

Claydon also pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods. Gary Lynch, 32, of Highgate, was sentenced to two years and eight months and Anthony Alleyne, 54, of Peckham, was sentenced to four years and six months.

“This was an immensely complex investigation involving a huge amount of evidence,” said Detective Constable Martyn Stone from the Met’s Flying Squad. “The group caused havoc in the West End with buildings being severely damaged and high-value goods being stolen.

“These men have since discovered that crime does not pay and thanks to the complex investigative work by the Flying Squad, they will instead be spending time behind bars.”

Investigations continue to track down and bring to justice outstanding suspects who are believed to have been involved.

Solo bike crime spree ends in jail: 20-year-old who admitted 27 offences gets 45-month term

First published on 06 January 2022 by Ben Clarke

Connor Roche, 20 of Ipswich has been jailed for 45 months

A 20-year-old thief from Ipswich has been jailed after he admitted stealing £12,000-worth of vehicles, including several motorbikes.

Connor Roche was caught on a doorbell camera trying to open the front door of a property in the town’s Sproughton Road and walking away. Following his arrest and having been charged with eight crimes he opted to engage with Suffolk Police’s Operation Converter and admitted to a further 19 offences.

These included seven burglaries, seven attempted burglaries, four thefts of motor vehicles and one of criminal damage. £11,000-worth of the stolen items were subsequently recovered and Roche was sentenced to 45 months in prison and banned from driving for 34-and-a-half months.

“Following excellent work by the Neighbourhood Response Team, in particular DC Jack Briggs, in securing the initial charges and remand, the door was opened to us to visit Roche in prison and put the other offences to him,” said Duncan Etchells from the Op Converter team.

Doorbell footage showed Connor Roche approaching a house

“Despite a trail of house burglaries, and the consequential upset and trauma for the victims, Roche didn’t benefit financially from any of these crimes. The loss to the victims is not just monetary it’s more the loss of a feeling of being secure in one’s own home, especially at night time. I can only hope that this young man will now reflect on the massive impact his offending has had on all of his victims.

“To him it may be just a thrill-seeking night but to the many victims and other people affected it can carry long term confidence issues.

“To this end we on Operation Converter will always strive to put prolific offenders such as Roche behind bars for as long as possible. In the long term I’m hopeful he’ll use the time in prison to carry on the empathy he now shows to his victims with the restorative justice initiatives we can direct him towards.”

Slimmed-down tracker could help more recover more bikes

First published on 25 December 2021 by Ben Clarke

BikeTrac Lite

If you’ve always wanted a security tracker for your pride and joy but been put off by the price, BikeTrac could have the answer.

They’ve got a new slimmed-down version of their tracking unit called BikeTrac Lite which gives riders the same GPS and radio frequency tracking features as their top-spec unit but at a reduced outlay.

“We are delighted to be able to bring this new simplified product to market,” BikeTrac’s Bill Taylor told MCN.

“While our premium device is still very much a market-leader thanks to its feature-rich functionality and impeccable recovery results over the last decade, for some time we’ve been keen to bring a slimmed down version to the market for lower-value machines.

A BikeTrac Lite in its box

“We’ve tried hard to make cost much less of an issue for riders looking for truly effective motorcycle security.”

What you don’t get with the Lite is access to the premium version’s handy app and web portal that provides real-time monitoring, journey history and notifications such as a low battery warning.

But you can still relax in the knowledge that your bike is being monitored by the BikeTrac team and if it gets moved without your knowledge you’ll get a text notification to alert you to what is going on.

BikeTrac Lite has a retail price of £199, with subscription costs at £5.99 per month or annual fee of £60. Zero percent finance is also available to help make the package accessible.

“With BikeTrac Lite, we’ve been able to slim down the additional functionality of the unit without losing the key security features, so our customers will all be protected by the very same technology regardless of what unit they choose,” Taylor added.

“As a result, we can pass this cost saving down to users, which in turn we hope will see more riders adopt tracking as their chosen line of defence.”

Visit www.biketraclite.co.uk for more information.

11 stolen bikes recovered

Greater Manchester Police’s Salford North East Neighborhood Team have been clamping down on stolen bikes and antisocial riding as part of Operation Sycamore and Operation Kinetic.

The team has recovered 11 suspected stolen machines in just two weeks, including six from the garden of a single property.

“We said we were clamping down on the storage and use of motorbikes on the estate used to commit crime and that we are,” said a representative from the force. “Our enforcement work will continue.”

Cops commended after petrol attack: Police doused in fuel after arresting thief on stolen bike

First published on 9 December 2021 by Ben Clarke

Essex Police officers are commended for their bravery following petrol attack

Seven police officers in Essex have been awarded commendations for their bravery following a terrifying incident involving a stolen motorcycle.

PC Andrew Bird, PC Zhak Burrows, PC Matthew Cutts, PC Stephen Gunshon, PC Megan Rees, PC Mark Thomas and Chief Inspector Jonathan Baldwin were attacked and doused with petrol while trying to arrest a prolific offender who was riding a stolen motorcycle.

The officers followed the suspect into a Basildon housing estate where they were confronted by a hostile crowd of 30 people. After arresting the man, the police were attacked by a woman with a hammer and a man who tackled and assaulted an officer on the ground. Then a second man, Justin Jackson, appeared with a watering can filled with petrol and began pouring it over the officers.

“I had petrol in my eyes and over my face and I was immediately blinded. To start with, I thought it was acid,” said PC Burrows.

“The crowd were cheering and shouting ‘light them up’. I couldn’t see and all I could hear was screaming and officers shouting ‘petrol’ and ‘no taser!’ One spark and we would all have had life-changing injuries. I cannot describe the fear of death. PC Matt Cutts struck the man holding the petrol can with his baton. It saved my life.”

Jackson was jailed for three years and nine months but PC Burrows says that the attack, that took place in May 2019, will stay with him forever.

Despite the volatile situation, local residents immediately brought out buckets of water and let officers use their showers.

Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington added: “This was a shocking and cowardly attack on a group of officers who were simply trying to do their jobs. All of the officers involved thoroughly deserve this acknowledgement for their outstanding bravery.”

Bike thieves get Specials treatment: Volunteer officers lend a hand in the battle against criminals

First published on 1 December 2021 by Ben Clarke

Special officer recovers a stolen scooter

Police in the south east of England have been getting help from volunteer officers in the fight against motorcycle and moped theft and associated criminal activity.

Volunteer police officers with the Essex force, better known as special constables, volunteered a total of over 1300 hours in just one day, during which arrests were made for vehicle theft and a stolen scooter was seized.

“During the day, as well as carrying out high-visibility patrols, officers attended various rural events, which added to the brilliant community engagement carried out,” said Special Superintendent Chris Gliddon.

“Then we had a very successful night, taking some dangerous offenders off the streets and safeguarding the public.”

And just the other side of the Thames in Kent, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) have also been doing their bit in the fight against bike theft. Two PCSOs on patrol returned a stolen moped to its rightful owner after discovering it on a routine patrol. Swale PCSOs Jake Marsh and Lee Fennell were on patrol in Sittingbourne earlier this month when they came across a moped that looked abandoned.

PCSO Marsh with recovered moped

The pair made several checks on the registration details, after which they found the owner had reported it stolen two weeks previously. The scooter was able to be recovered and returned to its rightful owner thanks to the work of the officers.

PCSO Marsh said: “We know that burglary can have devastating consequences for victims and although we are doing all we can to reduce these offences and arrest those responsible, it is equally important we try and give people a happy ending by reuniting them with their belongings. I’m delighted we have been able to help the victim in this respect.”

If you think you’ve got what it takes to be a PCSO or a special, contact your local force to find out how to apply.

New warning  over scammers: Vigilant sellers report being targeted by internet fraudsters

First published on 26 November 2021 by Ben Clarke

Beware online scams

Complex financial fraud and phishing scams are increasingly common, and it can be all too easy to fall into a trap. MCN has heard from a reader who believes he was the target of just such a scheme when trying to sell his bike.

Jeff (not his real name as he wished to remain anonymous) was offering his BMW R1100RT online when he received an email asking a few questions and for more photos of the bike.

“I then received an offer, which I refused, and we eventually agreed a price for slightly less than I was asking,” said Jeff. “At this time I started to become suspicious as the bike had not been seen but the buyer explained he lived in Denmark but worked offshore in Estonia.

“He could not view the bike but said he would buy it and arrange a freight company to collect it.”

This was all starting to trigger alarm bells, but Jeff supplied bank details for an old account he has in Dubai. At this stage, Jeff was also sent a copy of a genuine-looking Danish passport along with what appeared to be a Danish address. However, the supposed buyer made an error as the address was for a town called Denmark.. in Iowa, USA.

Example of a BMW R1100RT

Jeff received a copy of a bank transfer from a legitimate Czech bank and when he checked his account in Dubai, the money seemed to be there. He then received an email claiming to be from the bank explaining that an extra £500 was included for freight costs that he now needed to pay to a logistics company.

MCN has received confirmation from the bank in question that this email was fraudulent and did not originate from them. Transferring this £500 would have left Jeff out of pocket.

The worrying thing about this episode is that the money did appear to have landed and it would be very easy to think that once the money is in your account you are safe. Luckily, Jeff’s previous experience with international payments meant that he was suspicious and didn’t proceed further.

What the experts say

Met Police consultant Dr Ken German believes ‘Jeff’ had a lucky escape: “These scammers have developed clever ways to make it look as though the money is in your account when it can actually still be withdrawn.

“If this happens after you ship the bike, you end up with nothing. In this particular case, since the buyer had asked Jeff to send freight costs to another account he could have ended up without his bike and be £500 worse off. Remember that if anything feels suspicious when selling your bike online, walk away.”

New ‘EasyBlock’ device claims success against scooter theft

First published on 18 November 2021 by Ben Clarke

EasyBlock for the Honda PCX125

With the increasing sales and popularity of scooters and small-capacity bikes in the UK comes a corresponding need to keep these bikes safe and out of the reach of criminals. So far in 2021, one in every four powered two wheelers sold in the UK has been a scooter with a total of 28,500 hitting the streets.

This figure is up almost 20% on the previous year with an increasing number of commuters shunning public transport and moving to life on two wheels.

But a brief scan of the motorcycle theft social media pages shows that these models are also often targeted by thieves as they are lightweight, easy to ride and the vehicle of choice for getaway riders and phone snatchers in UK cities.

On top of that there is a ready availability of such machines as they’re also widely used by couriers and delivery riders, which have enjoyed a Covid19-driven boom in popularity and are often briefly left unattended and unsecured by their riders during deliveries.

EasyBlock for the Honda PCX125

Now an Italian firm called EasyBlock say they have the solution to these spate of thefts in the form of ther new captive wheel locking security device.

Already available for a range of popular scooters including the Yamaha NMax, Honda PCX125 and Vespa GTS, the model-specific device is fitted to the swingarm and uses a heavy-duty pin to lock the rear wheel in place.

What’s more, they’re adding versions for bigger bikes to the range including the Yamaha MT-07 and Tracer 700, and the Honda Africa Twin.

Because the EasyBlock stays put on the bike rather than requiring to be carried under the seat or in your pocket, it is easy and convenient to lock into place with a push of your boot. This makes it ideal for delivery riders who stop regularly. Then simply unlock and ride off again. The EasyBlock costs around £170 depending on your bike model.

Biker Biker are big fans of the EasyBlock:

MP leads off-road bike theft backlash: Calls for owners to help beat bike crime by registering their machines

First published on 8 November 2021 by Richard Newland

Yamaha Ténéré 700 police bike

The theft and illegal use of off-road motorcycles and quads is a blight that affects a huge number of communities all over the UK.

As well as the significant expense, frustration and inconvenience for the owner who has lost their bike – there is a tangible social impact from such thefts. Both rural and urban areas are blighted by illegal riding activity, often on footpaths, bridleways, playing fields and common land, as well as the public highway and in pedestrian areas within estates.

They are also often used to enable other crimes. The safety implications of this are clear, while the simple noise and nuisance adds another layer of negativity. And, of course, when the national media portrays the issue, these criminals are branded ‘bikers’, tarring us all with the same brush.

But fighting back against the criminal use of motorcycles is a frustrating problem for police forces and the courts because it’s often impossible to prove that a bike is stolen, and it’s also rarely possible to identify the actual owner.

This means that prosecuting the criminals becomes equally impossible as there is no chain of evidence on which to convict them – beyond licence, tax, MOT, insurance or social order offences.

This means that even if police confiscate the machines, they are rarely able to identify the legal owner and return their property to them – and the bike thief will likely be released to simply do it again.

Nick Fletcher MP

So how can the cycle be broken? There’s no easy answer, but Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher has been working hard with police chiefs, expert advisors – including MCN’s crime expert Dr Ken German – and the DVLA in an attempt to fight back against the problems within his constituency, while also increasing the likelihood of identifying crimes and enabling the police to catch, and CPS to prosecute, offenders.

The first step in this battle is being able to identify specific machines, and their legal ownership – and the only way for this to happen is to encourage owners of unregistered machines to take up the free option offered by the DVLA to register their bike.

The voluntary scheme is free to the machine owner – there is no vehicle registration fee providing the machine is only destined for off-road use. All vehicles will be given a Q or QNI prefix registration number (you don’t need to display a plate), but there is no vehicle tax, no need to purchase insurance, nor MOT or SORN the vehicle.

Having a registration document will also help when selling your machine, as it will allow potential owners to be more confident they’re not buying a stolen machine.

A motorbike seized by Operation Yellowfin in Lincolnshire

“As an MP representing a constituency that is made up of small and medium-sized towns and arable farmland, one of the many complaints I receive from constituents concerns the use of off-road motorcycling,” says Nick Fletcher MP.

“Much of the anti-social behaviour arising from off-road motorcycle activity is carried out by individuals who have stolen such vehicles. This is where I believe communities and law-abiding motorcycle users can come together.

“Vehicles can be registered with the DVLA free of charge. There is no need to tax, test, or insure your vehicle, but it means that if the vehicle is stolen and found, it can be returned to you. I am also sure that it would be easier to place on your home insurance if it is legally registered to you.

“If we can reduce the thefts of these vehicles and help return them to their owners if they are stolen, it will also reduce the other related criminal behaviour that frightens many of my constituents.”

Anyone who owns an unregistered off-road bike or quad can go to the Government website to get all the information needed to register it with the DVLA. Remember, it’s free – but could be the golden ticket to getting your bike back if it’s stolen, as well as enabling the prosecution of the criminal who took it.

The long road to recovery: Brit biker follows stolen motorcycle all the way to Romania

First published 3 November 2021 by Ben Clarke

Romanian police officers with Kelston's AJP PR7

When Kelston Chorley saw his stolen bike being advertised for sale in Romania at a knockdown price, he decided to fly out there and do something about it.

Chorley’s AJP PR7 was pinched in July 2020 when thieves broke into his garage and he was later made aware through a Facebook forum that the machine had been spotted for sale in Eastern Europe.

“It turns out that some guy over there in Romania, he’s got his hands on my old bike,” he explains in a YouTube video about his adventure. “I spoke to the local Interpol over there and they weren’t much help, I spoke to the police over here and they weren’t interested, I spoke to my insurance company and they weren’t interested.

“So basically people can nick bikes, ship them off to Eastern Europe and no one really is going to bother doing anything about it. Isn’t that sad?”

Unwilling to let that be the end of the matter, within 24 hours Chorley was on a flight to Bucharest. What followed involved a little toing and froing between the central police in Bucharest and the force local to where the bike was suspected to be stored.

Watch Kelston’s video account of the adventure here:

But once an interpreter was appointed to go through the paperwork it took the local officers just one day to track the motorbike down and recover it.

The next challenge will be arranging for the bike to be shipped back to the UK and obtaining salvage rights to buy the machine back from the insurance company.

Chorley added: “It’s been an extraordinary journey so far. It won’t be finished until the bike gets back safely in my garage in the UK but so far it’s been pretty extraordinary.”

Tén out of Tén for  new police bikes: South Yorkshire Police add Yamaha 700s to motorcycle fleet

First published on October 29 2021 by Ben Clarke

Yamaha Ténéré 700 police bike

South Yorkshire Police Off Road Team have a new weapon in the fight against bike theft and related crime. The force have added Yamaha Ténéré 700s to their existing fleet of WR250s to bridge the gap between the small scramblers and the BMW R1200RTs they use on the road.

“The problem with the RTs is that riding on the housing estates, through the ginnels is fine but if the suspect rides onto the grass, following them just isn’t an option,” explained Sgt James Shirley from the team.

“It would also be quite dangerous to start pursuing on the road with the WR as it doesn’t have the speed capability to keep up with some of the bikes we deal with.

“These new bikes are part of our ongoing tactical approach to dealing with motorcycle theft, antisocial riding and associated crimes.”

Ténéré 700 police bike with BMW R1200RT models

The new Ténérés are fitted with dual sport tyres rather than full knobblies to preserve on road performance and, aside from the usual police livery, the bikes are almost unchanged from standard. The team have also taken the decision not to fit panniers so they can still squeeze their way through tight gaps when necessary.

As one of the most advanced off-road policing teams in the country, South Yorkshire Police are also working to perfect pursuit techniques and best practice for other forces to follow.

Sgt Shirley continued: “Different cities and counties are experiencing the same problems with bikes. Scooters and e-bikes are being used in robberies as well as bigger bikes and these new bikes are perfect to use across the riding disciplines.

“They’re certainly a head-turner when they’re out chasing people through fields and through the woods, they generate a lot of interest. The idea eventually is to use them as support vehicles on every deployment of the WRs; they’re going to be an amazing tool.”

Back in 90 minutes: Super Soco was stolen, tracked and recovered in record time

First published on 25 October 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

Mike Philips with his new Super Soco TC Max

What’s the single best bit of kit to improve your chances of keeping your bike? A tracker… and the story of Mike Philip’s Super Soco is a case in point.

Just minutes after Mike locked his bike up outside his house (disc lock and all) he received a knock on his door from a neighbour who had noticed one of his bikes was missing.

Remembering it was fitted with a tracker, he fired up the Super Soco app on his phone to see its live location while someone else called the police.

“After informing the police of the situation, I got a call from the officer in the chasing vehicle, asking me to keep him updated with the location of the bike,” says Mike.

“I received a message back informing me that five squad cars had been scrambled to help recover the bike. By this point the machine had travelled 12 miles south of my home in Pontypridd and was on its way towards Cardiff.

“After spotting that it had been stationary for a few minutes, I received a notification from the app to say that the battery had been disconnected as the thieves had tried to stop the alarm. I updated the pursuing officers before getting a message back a few minutes later telling me that they were standing next to it, after finding it stashed in the back of a white estate car.”

The whole episode took less than 90 minutes from start to finish, with the police officer later reporting that the thieves seemed surprised that a bike they thought was a 125 was fitted with a tracker.

The tracker also had the added bonus of helping the police catch a pair of well-known bike thieves red-handed. Unfortunately, when they tried to disable the alarm, the thieves did enough damage to write off the machine but Super Soco provided Mike with a replacement TC Max, which was handed over at Fowlers in Bristol. Tracker aside, Mike is well chuffed with his switch to electric.

“When I lived in London, the bike probably paid for itself in the first year with what I saved on tubes and buses,” adds Mike. “When you look at £2-3 a month for electricity – it’s nothing!”

Bike thieves put behind bars: Prison for idiots who posted incriminating videos online

First published on 21 October by Ben Clarke

Jayden Jones-McGilvray captured on video

Two men who went on a vehicle theft crime spree that included the theft of a scooter from Camber in East Sussex have been jailed for a total of eight years. Police tracked Harrison Walker, 20, from Wimbledon and Jayden Jones-McGilvray, 21, formerly of Richmond, to a holiday park where they were arrested.

Footage of the pair with the stolen vehicles, including a video of the scooter being ridden without a helmet was found on mobile phones and had even been posted to social media by the miscreants.

The pair along with another man stole a total of nine vehicles during a spate of offences in September 2020. A Ford Transit van was stolen between September 27 and 29 was found in Camber and enquiries led police to CCTV footage of the three men responsible. They were then linked to the other thefts and pleaded guilty to the crimes in court.

Watch the video footage here:

Jones-McGilvray was jailed for three years and 10 months for conspiracy to burgle and conspiracy to steal. Walker was jailed for four years and two months for the same charges, as well as additional charges of handling stolen goods and driving offences committed in January 2021. The third man will be sentenced at a later date.

“Officers understand the often long-term impact of burglaries on people’s lives, and are determined to investigate fully to bring those responsible before the courts,” said Detective Constable Kirsty Gee, of Kent Police’s Chief Constable’s Crime Squad.

“These offenders were unrelenting in the number of homes they targeted and the number of vehicles they stole, each of which would have impacted the owners’ day-to-day lives. I am pleased this thorough investigation has seen these two men jailed and they will now be unable to cause further problems for the people of east Kent.”

Bike security breakthrough: Brit firm say wheel-locking invention is impossible to beat

First published on 11 October 2021 by Ben Clarke

Moto Lock Secure in action

A UK outfit have developed what they say is a fast, secure and tamperproof motorcycle security solution that can ‘withstand any form of attack’.

The Moto Lock Secure is the brainchild of Ewan Montgomery and uses a combination of 6, 10 and 12mm steel plates to enclose the front wheel. You then fit a padlock behind a tamper-proof enclosure and that’s it, your bike isn’t going anywhere.

Three sizes of device are available: a small, scooter wheel version. a large for adventure bikes, and a medium for everything in between. There are also plans for a cruiser-specific version.

How the Moto Lock Secure holds your bike in place

“The main driving force for me to build this lock was the bike theft fiasco – the damn things just disappear,” Montgomery told MCN. “We’ve tried to break into this product, tried to destroy it. We’ve let people have a go and gone away to make a coffee and when we get back, all they’ve managed to do is make it ugly. They’ve certainly not got a bike out of it.” 

The Moto Lock Secure device can be fitted anywhere you have concrete to anchor it to, so you could have one in your garden, garage or driveway but the firm are also looking at selling to local councils to make it available to the public.

There is also scope to add anything from surveillance cameras to self-locking systems either operated by codes or apps so that you don’t even have to use a padlock.

A standard padlock is used to lock the unit

The Moto Lock currently costs £1500 including everything you need to fix it to the ground. You also need to use your own padlock – although if you have one already it will probably fit.

While this is a sizeable outlay, the firm are exploring finance options and even the possibility of including the lock with PCP agreements on new bikes. Call 01259 694014 or visit the Moto Lock Secure website for more info. 

Security drive to combat thieves: Kent Police to hand out free locks as a first line of defence

First published on 23 September 2021 by Andy Calton

Kent Road Safety Team

Making sure your bike is properly locked is one of the key measures in stopping opportunist thieves from making off with it – which is why Kent Police are launching a scheme which will see them handing out 200 locks to riders in the county completely free of charge.

Community Policing Team Sergeant Sean Scarsbrook told us: “The general perception is that the police are not interested in stolen bikes, but that is not the case. In an attempt to reduce the number of motorcycle thefts in our area, we are putting together a local day of action.

“As part of that we will be giving away locks to the first 200 people who turn up at the event on a motorcycle registered in their name and with a V5 logbook showing an address somewhere in Kent.”

The Margate-based officer is hoping to team up with a manufacturer to have some machines on show, too. There will also be members of the force’s Motorcycle Team on hand to give bikers advice and guidance on machine maintenance, safety checks and advanced riding techniques.

Free locks handed out by Kent Police

“Anyone is welcome and if this event proves successful we’d look to do something again, maybe next spring,” added Suzuki SV1000S-riding Sgt Scarsbrook.

“Both the Kent Community Policing Team and our Motorcycle Team are proactive in locating and recovering stolen vehicles, but by doing events like this we hope we that can help prevent bikes being stolen in the first place.

“It’d be great to get a good turnout from the motorcycle community, no matter what size of bike people ride, and pull together in a bid to stop bikes getting stolen. It’s the first event of this kind we have done in the area, but hopefully it won’t be the last!”

The free session is being held on Ramsgate seafront – where there is plenty of parking – on Saturday, October 23.

Mixed picture on bike theft stats: MAG report criticises police forces for unreliable figures

First published on 16 September 2021 by Ben Clarke

Motorbike thieves eyeing up a BMW

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) have published their annual bike theft report for 2020 and it shows an overall drop in bike theft nationally.

As expected due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns, the number of bikes stolen per 1000 registered decreased from 19 in 2019 to 13 last year.

London was unsurprisingly the chart-topper with 69 bikes stolen per 1000 registered, which means that a total of 8138 (around 7%) of registered bikes were stolen.

This was a big enough drop on the previous year’s figure of 87 bikes per 1000, however, to make it the second most improved area in the country.

Hot on London’s heels is the Welsh area of Gwent, which has leapt from just 14 nicked bikes per 1000 in 2019 to a worrying 35 in 2020. This means that one-in-29 registered machines in Gwent were reported missing last year.

At the other end of the chart sits Northumbria, which has gone up 29 places from 2019 with a new statistic of just one bike stolen per 1000. This translates to just 16 bike thefts for the whole of 2020 and might go to show that the hard work by Operation Benelli in the area is paying off.

Once again, MAG have queried the accuracy of the data they get from Freedom of Information requests each year. “It is a source of great frustration that data for the most basic of questions is unreliable,” said MAG’s Director of Campaigns and Political Engagement, Colin Brown. 

“The number of reported thefts should be a figure that is easy for any force to report accurately. Yet we see forces issuing figures and then claiming they are wrong, as well as a handful of forces that simply refuse to provide any data whatsoever.

“We will persist. Tackling motorcycle theft is a priority close to the heart of all riders. The response to it could be vastly improved with clear and accurate intelligence.”

Other areas with bike crime changes

Statistically the safest place to keep a bike last year, North Yorkshire has dropped 26 places to 27th with a total of 233 bikes stolen.

Humberside police have been working as part of Operation Yellowfin and have climbed 12 positions in the chart, a big improvement.

Greater Manchester Police did not submit any data and nor did Scotland, Hampshire or Thames Valley. Wiltshire and South Wales took part in the survey for the first time.

Nano tech for next-gen trackers: How the art world could help to improve stolen bike recovery

First published on 9 September 2021 by Ben Clarke

A tiny microchip on a fingertip

Universities trying to come up with the answer to motorbike theft are looking at the art and collectible world for inspiration.

Just 10% of rare artwork stolen worldwide is ever recovered, and this has prompted the police, insurance companies, approved private art investigators, tracing agencies and other likeminded groups to get creative with their hunt for new tech.

Now, US insititutions are looking into using some of those ideas to boost stolen vehicle recovery rates. Nano-trackers powered by rare earth magnets, and paint or lacquer that’s impregnated with individual code and nanotechnologies are both being investigated.

“Rare earth magnets like neodymium magnets and samarium–cobalt magnets are being developed into power sources capable of being used in nano tracking units for valuables such as paintings and if current tests are successful, vehicles,” said Met Police consultant and vehicle crime expert Dr Ken German.

Rare earth metal can be used to power trackers

“At this time some of these rare-earth magnets used have been found to be extremely brittle and vulnerable to corrosion, requiring a plated or coated covering to protect them from breaking, chipping, or crumbling into powder. 

“Nevertheless, these microscopic devices could one day eliminate the rather heavy and cumbersome present-day batteries used to power tracking systems in vehicles, which seem to be easily discovered and removed by thieves.”

DNA spray is already used by forces up and down the UK to link suspects to specific times, places and crimes. Impregnating vehicle paint or lacquer with its own unique code is a similar idea and would allow police to identify criminals.

Dr German added: “Every little piece of new technology that can help today’s police to keep pace with the criminal tool box must be welcomed.”

Prolific bike thief behind bars: Teen criminal stole six bikes and led police on 90-minute chase

First published on 2 September 2021 by Ben Clarke

Police cordon set up after arrest

A 19-year-old from Gateshead has been jailed for 25 months and banned from driving for three years following his release after leading police officers and the police helicopter on a dangerous chase through Newcastle.

Kieran McMahon, who stole six bikes worth a total of around £13,000, was spotted riding recklessly around Newcastle and Gateshead pulling wheelies, mounting pavements and at one point even crashing into a car, injuring the driver.

He refused to stop for police and eventually ditched the bike, changed clothes and hopped on a bus to evade arrest. Officers later swooped on his address but McMahon climbed onto the roof and threw tiles at police. He was eventually arrested and charged.

On Monday, August 2, McMahon pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal, dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, two counts of criminal damage, causing public nuisance and theft of a pedal bike.

Kieran McMahon

“This was some truly appalling behaviour by McMahon which saw him conspiring and stealing vehicles that some people such as delivery drivers relied on for work, in what was already a really challenging time,” said DC Craig Austin from Northumbria Police’s High Impact team.

“Not only did he deprive people of their vehicles, but he drove them recklessly and dangerously in busy areas putting other road users and pedestrians at serious risk of injury. Dangerous driving, no matter the vehicle, is a selfish and inexcusable offence and I would like to praise the professionalism and tenacity of the officers who responded and brought him to justice.

“I am pleased with the sentencing passed down, hopefully it will give McMahon time to think about his actions and will ensure he’s kept off our roads for a considerable amount of time.”

No hiding place for bike criminals: 10 stolen mopeds recovered alongside drugs and weapons

First published on 25 August 2021 by Ben Clarke

Operation Venice officers perform a vehicle stop

Operation Venice, the Met Police taskforce set up to tackle moped and motorcycle theft and related crime, targeted would-be thieves in a period of action coinciding with the end of lockdown restrictions.

Specially trained officers conducted 21 fast pursuits in hotspot areas of the capital and recovered ten stolen mopeds – some of which were displaying false plates – as well as 100 ‘wraps’ of Class-A drugs, a knife, a machete and £2000 in cash.

They also made seven arrests for a variety of offences including failing to stop for police, theft of motor vehicles, drug offences, robbery, possession of a bladed article and various traffic offences, including not having insurance.

“We want to ensure thieves don’t exploit the end of lockdown and the return to normality by targeting those living, visiting or working in London,” said Sergeant Clem Jones of the Operation Venice team. “We aimed to disrupt their criminal activities and catch them in the act.”

Operation Venice officers search a stopped scooter

With more people out on the streets after lockdown, officers were concerned about a resurgence in scooter/moped-enabled crime where riders (generally using stolen machines) grab mobile phones and other valuables from members of the public.

Sgt Jones added: “We all tend to do so much on our mobiles and many of us use them for directions when out and about – this is when thieves spot us and target us. We often have other valuable items, such as headphones, on the go, too. All of these things can attract opportunist thieves.

“If you are unlucky enough to fall victim to thieves please report it to police immediately by dialing 999 – this gives us a chance to catch the suspects. We often receive reports when the victim has returned home which is usually too late for us to conduct a search.”

The future of motorcycle parking: Smart docking stations to include charging and kit locker

First published on 18 August 2021 by Ben Clarke

Bikers Guardian units in a street

A start-up firm are hoping to revolutionise the way we secure our bikes when parking in public places.

Bikers Guardian have come up with a docking station design that allows you to lock the front wheel of your bike in place while denying thieves access to your front spindle, so they can’t just nick the rest of the bike.

What’s more, the unit can act as a charging station for electric bikes and contains a secure, climate-controlled locker for your bike kit, too. And best of all, hydrogen fuel cell tech means the Bikers Guardian is green and doesn’t rely on being connected to mains electricity.

Users will be able to check on their bike by accessing a security camera through a secure app, which is also where parking will be booked and paid for.

A motorbike locked in a Bikers Guardian unit

Bikers Guardian was conceived and designed by Jonathan Round, who had his own bike stolen from Matlock Bath in just 10 minutes.

“This is new technology providing a multi-parking solution to prevent the ever-increasing problem of motorcycle crime, both in the UK and globally,” the firm said. “The rise of motorcycle crime has been widely publicised in recent years.

“Statistics indicate that there are over 1.8 million registered motorcycles and scooters on our highways today. Councils are doing their best to encourage more motorcyclists to bring their motorcycles into the town and city centres as a way to ease congestion and also aid in the reduction of harmful emissions.

“Meanwhile people are also now far more concerned with the impact of stolen motorcycles as they are used for all kinds of crime such as snatch and grab, shop thefts, drug related crime and much more.”

The Bikers Guardian dock is currently at the prototyping phase, after which comes Sold Secure testing.

What you said

Jail for bike thief who punched cop

First published on 13 August 2021 by Ben Clarke

Adam Arthur Kelly has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison

A 27-year-old man has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to a burglary in Kettering during which a bike was stolen.

Adam Arthur Kelly, previously of Northampton, admitted smashing a window to gain access to a house in Argyll Street in December 2020. Once inside, he took the keys to a Yamaha Tracer before riding it away.

Kelly was identified by Northants Police Burglary Team as the main suspect and an arrest warrant was issued.

Then in January 2021 patrolling officers spotted a motorcycle travelling at speed and discovered that it was displaying false plates. The rider, who turned out to be Kelly, refused to stop and sped off, at times hitting 80mph in 30mph zones through the centre of Northampton.

Eventually, he fell off then punched the officer who came to arrest him before running off on foot. Kelly was eventually tracked down by Police Dog Nala, and detained.

He was subsequently charged with burglary and with assaulting an officer and at Northampton Crown Court on July 22. Kelly pleaded guilty to both offences and was sentenced to a total of two years and six months in prison.

“The streets of Northamptonshire are safer as a result of this investigation as Adam Kelly is now safely behind bars and therefore unable to blight our communities with his shameless crimes,” said the force’s DC Dave Bastuba.

“This was a real team effort across the area and I hope it shows that Northamptonshire Police are collectively determined to track down burglars and bring them to justice.

“I am also pleased that Kelly was convicted for assaulting one of my colleagues – none of us go to work to be assaulted and therefore when one of us is, it is imperative that we pursue justice against the offender.”

Putting the riding in East Riding: New team of off-road bike cops now on patrol in Humberside

First published on 04 August 2021 by Ben Clarke

New off road police rider in Hull

Humberside Police have a new weapon in the fight against bike theft and anti-social riding, in the shape of a dedicated motorbike unit. The newly formed team is made up of 12 officers from Humberside’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams and members of Hull City Council.

Equipped with Honda CRF300s, officers will be able to pursue suspects wherever they go but it’s not all about high speed chases and making arrests.

“Since launching, we have already spoken to lots of people in the community who have been really pleased to see our officers out on motorbikes,” said Inspector Mark Peasgood who is leading the new taskforce.

“The team, working with the council, will be looking to build and develop existing relationships with local bikers, businesses and residents which will help support them to find and develop solutions to tackle crimes affecting them.

“I cannot stress enough how important it is for us to hear from our residents about the problems they are experiencing as this helps us achieve a better understanding on how we tackle the issues.

Humberside Police's Honda CRF300s

“As a part of the new task force the team will also be working with Safer Roads Humber to engage and educate riders around motorcycle safety and the dangers of driving these vehicles in an anti-social manner.”

Many of the officers involved have been bikers themselves and have decades of combined policing experience in the area.

Tracy Harsley, the Chair of Safer Hull, added: “The vast majority of motorcycle riders in the city use them in a safe and respectful manner, but those who ride illegally can cause concern from residents in these communities.

“This initiative will hopefully go a long way to help people feel safe, while also reassuring motorcycle owners that action is being taken to prevent the theft of motorcycles in Hull.”

Jail for thief who stole restored ZXR: Three bikes worth a total of £38,000 taken in overnight raid

First published on 29 July 2021 by Ben Clarke

Andru-Jay Burgess (inset)

A Northamptonshire bike thief has been sentenced to two years in prison and banned from driving for 30 months after his fingerprints were discovered at the scene of a commercial robbery.

Appearing at Northampton Crown court, Andru-Jay Burgess, 21, admitted his part in the burglary, which took place overnight between Saturday and Sunday, August 3-4, 2019.

A Kawasaki ZXR750 that the victim described as “irreplaceable” and two Ducati Panigales worth a total of around £38,000 were stolen from a lock-up where they were being stored ready to be sold.

The bikes, none of which were insured at the time of the theft, had been restored over several years by the owner, who was getting ready to launch a motorcycle business.

Burgess, of Culross Walk, Corby, was arrested after being spotted at the wheel of a Vauxhall Astra in December 2019 despite having been disqualified from driving.

Police pursued Burgess along the A14, during which time – and at speeds of up to 50mph – he managed to swap seats with his passenger, Katie Young, 30, in order to disguise who was driving the car. Young, of Westminster Walk, Corby, also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and was given an 18-month community order.

Sentencing the pair, Judge David Herbert QC said: “The consequences of your offending has had a significant impact on the victim’s life, in fact he says it has wrecked his life, and has had a significant impact on his family.

“In December 2019 you were involved in the course of dangerous driving with Miss Young. It’s more by luck than judgement that there were no other road users.

“Miss Young this was foolish on your part. You were not the prime mover in the dangerous driving but you did your best to assist Mr Burgess. I would like to think this is the last time we’ll see you before the courts.”

Fighting bike crime on the front line: Cops step up their efforts to crack down on bike thefts

First published on 21 July 2021 by Ben Clarke

A stolen scooter is stopped by the Police in London

The Metropolitan Police’s roads team have been working hard to tackle motorbike and moped theft in the capital and say it’s been paying off.

The Southern Borough Command Unit, for example, have been patrolling the open spaces in Croydon, Bromley and Sutton by motorcycle including their dedicated off-road bike.

The team managed to cover over 100 miles in a single patrol, taking community policing and visibility to hard-to-reach parts of the city. Police in Lambeth, meanwhile, pursued a rider on a scooter before the offender ditched it and made off on foot.

“Checks showed it was on false plates and reported stolen,” a statement from the Met revealed. “A search of the area found a second scooter hidden away after being stolen over a year ago – both machines were recovered for their owners.”

But it’s not just London where bike crime is being taken seriously and forces elsewhere in the country are promising to crackdown after a spate of offences.

MCN heard just last week about increased patrols in Suffolk following a spike in thefts in Lowestoft and now West Midlands Police have announced that they will be running a similar operation. They already uncovered a small chopshop that was stripping stolen bikes for engine parts, but that’s just the beginning.

Sergeant Louise Maile, Kingstanding Neighbourhood Policing Supervisor, said: “Having a moped or any form of transport stolen is very upsetting and we know that for many, this can be a main form of transport and therefore greatly disruptive.

“We are determined to crackdown on this, enquiries into the thefts are continuing. We are reviewing the cases to help us build a bigger picture of intelligence. Anyone can report suspicious activity in the area and while security measures can’t guarantee your machine won’t be stolen, we would advise moped owners to take note of the preventative steps and guidance available,” she said.

Cops tackle new wave of thefts: Huge rise in bike and scooter crime hits East Anglian town

First published on 9 July 2021 by Ben Clarke

Seized motorcycles in Suffolk

Suffolk Police are launching a new operation to tackle motorcycle and moped theft in Lowestoft after a spate of crime in the town.

Since January this year there have been around 50 reported thefts of bikes and scooters from the Lowestoft area. To put that in perspective, during all of 2019 (the last year with data available) there were 106 thefts across the entire county of Suffolk.

In response to this sharp rise local police will be launching dedicated patrols, increasing engagement with motorcycle enthusiasts and clubs, collecting and analysing intelligence and running proactive investigations in a bid to snare offenders.

“Having a mode of transport stolen is extremely upsetting as well as disruptive for the victim, which is why we are determined to crackdown on this issue,” commented Sgt Graham Baker of Suffolk Police.

“Enquiries into the thefts are continuing and we are always very keen to hear of any suspicious activity that can help build our picture of intelligence. We will keep you updated when we have some positive outcomes.”

The force is also putting some of the responsibility on riders themselves by calling for owners to be vigilant and always make use of bike security.

Sgt Baker continued: “The other thing people can do is to follow some simple preventative tips. By adopting some simple habits, you will be in control of what happens to your machine when you leave it. Importantly, the more security measures and precautions you include, the less attractive your machine will be to thieves.

“An unsecured motorcycle is an easy target for thieves as it is relatively lightweight and can be wheeled away and lifted into a waiting vehicle.

“By adopting good practice and adding approved security devices, you could prevent loss and possibly reduce your insurance premiums.”

Money seized from bike criminals gets used to fit ground anchors

First published on 9 July 2021 by Ben Clarke

Crime money has been turned into security

Somerset biker, Ollie Hulme, wanted his local council to do more to prevent motorcycle theft, so he put his money where his mouth is and got the ball rolling himself. Well, actually, he put the ill-gotten gains of criminals where his mouth is because the Avon & Somerset Police Community Trust were making the money available for projects to help reduce crime.

“There were gangs stealing anything that wasn’t securely locked up and boasting about it on social media,” explained Ollie, who is a freelance motorcycle journalist. “Classics, adventure bikes, sportsbikes, scooters and mopeds were all getting nicked. They usually ended up wrecked, dumped in ditches or burned out.

“A lot of people complain that the authorities won’t do anything to stop bike thefts, but it just took me a few emails. I thought the anchors would come in handy for bike tourists and for locals wanting to secure their machines. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

Ground anchors help prevent against motorcycle thefts

In his application, Ollie pointed out that in their official guidance to bikers, Burnham-on-Sea Police advise locking your bike to an ‘immovable object such as a ground anchor or street furniture’ but that no such provision was made in the town’s carparks. He also worked to price up the job of fitting the devices, citing a recent initiative in Dulwich, London, that cost £500 per anchor.

A spokesman for Burnham-on-Sea Town Council said: “There are now public ground anchors fitted in spaces used for motorbike parking.

“Knowing that the area, especially Burnham, is a popular destination for motorcyclists, the town council, with Sedgemoor District Council approval, applied to the Police Community Trust for a grant of £1000 towards installing four heavy-duty, retractable ground anchors in the parking bays, with two anchors in each site.”

See if you can do it too

Bike theft is a problem across the UK and yet few public carparks have secure anchors or railings to chain your bike to. Ollie has proved that it’s possible to get this changed with a bit of research and a few emails, so why not write to your local council and find out if a similar fund exists in your area?

Using the criminal’s own money to make the lives of other criminals harder seems like a pretty great idea to us and it sends a far more positive message than crushing seized bikes.

Moped riding robbers jailed: Keys to padlocks for stolen mopeds used in evidence

First published on 02 July 2021 by Ben Clarke

From top: Joseph Hamilton-Peart, Joshua Norris, Sean Tuso

Three men who terrorised South London businesses stealing £24,000 worth of cash, alcohol and cigarettes at knifepoint before fleeing on mopeds have been jailed at Croydon Crown Court.

Sean Tuso, 21 of Belmont Road, Wallington, Joshua Norris, 22, of Colliers Water Lane, Thornton Heath and Joseph Hamilton-Peart, 20 of Craignish Avenue, SW16 were sentenced to six years, four years and four months and three years respectively for their parts in the offences.

Despite wearing face coverings and helmets making CCTV identification impossible, Tuso and Norris were linked to the crimes in part because they were in possession of keys to padlocks used to secure stolen mopeds on or near their addresses.

Forensic investigations also linked the men to a helmet, Rambo knife and hammer used during the robberies, and phone videos of the trio posing with the knives was also recovered by the Met Police’s Operation Venice taskforce.

South London robbery taking place

“These men terrorised shops in south London over a four week period, visiting mainly at night and threatening staff with knives and using violence to steal cash, alcohol and cigarettes,” said Police Constable Tadas Balnys, from Operation Venice.

“Their spree was stopped thanks to the meticulous investigation by Venice officers which required diligent forensic work. The fingerprint, phone and DNA evidence in this investigation was vital in identifying each of the criminals. It highlights the proactive work we do every day to ensure serious offenders are identified and brought to justice.

“I hope that the verdict and sentencing helps to reassure the community that the Metropolitan Police are there to keep London safe. We are committed to tackling violent crime and have no tolerance for criminals who commit senseless acts of violence.”

Antisocial riders feel the squeeze: Merseyside Police crush stolen or dangerous machines

First published on 25 June 2021 by Ben Clarke

Police in Merseyside crush unclaimed stolen or dangerous motorcycles

Merseyside Police crushed a number of seized motorcycles at an event on Monday, June 14, 2021. The vehicles were seized as part of Operation Brookdale, which was first introduced in 2012 to target antisocial and nuisance off-roading and theft.

“Nuisance bikes are a major concern and every single stolen or dangerous bike crushed today is making our region safer,” said Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell.

“Merseyside Police has worked really hard to tackle this issue, taking these bikes out of the hands of criminals. Since March more than 180 bikes have been seized, yet officers are not resting on their laurels. Today’s event is a visible demonstration of their on-going commitment to stopping the illegal and anti-social use of these bikes.

“If we are to remove them from our roads, we need the public’s help. By providing information either to the police, or anonymously to Crimestoppers, about where these unlicensed, uninsured bikes are being stored and who is using them, people can help the police to find them and seize them, making our streets safer for everyone.”

The campaign appears to be working according to statistics from the police that show the number of reported incidents has dropped from 10,511 in 2016-17 to 5150 in the last 12 months, that’s a 49% reduction.

Chief Inspector Paul Holden added: “The number of bikes seized during this year’s operation should mean that our communities are subjected to fewer incidents in the future and I also hope it makes people who use off-road bikes illegally or anti-socially think very carefully about their behaviour.

“Despite our successes in seizing these bikes, we will not be complacent. We know many of our communities continue to be blighted by bikes being ridden dangerously and I want to reassure people that our work will carry on.”

Ace day out for Op Venice as officers attend crime-busting Motorcycle Awareness Day

First published on 17 June 2021 by Ben Clarke

PS Clem Jones of Operation Venice

Bike crime and how to prevent it was under the spotlight as London’s Ace Cafe held its Motorcycle Awareness Day – or MAD Sunday – in aid of the charity Service by Emergency Rider Volunteers.

Officers from the Met’s Op Venice team were on hand to showcase the bikes they use to chase down criminals in London – the slimline BMW F750GS and the more commonly seen R1250RTP – and were keen to give advice on keeping bikes safe.

“We are really pleased that the Ace invited us to this event. We take every opportunity to speak to bikers about protecting their motorcycles and powered two-wheelers,” said Sergeant Clem Jones, the man in charge of the Op Venice team. 

Some of the Op Venice team at the Ace Café London

“Often, scooters and mopeds are stolen to commit violent crimes such as robberies and smash and grabs. When securing a bike or scooter, bikers help to protect their property but also help us to fight the thieves by making their lives difficult.”

Sergeant Dave Bottomely who is in charge of the Bike Safe team was also on hand to talk to talk about reducing accidents. He said: “We want everyone to make the most of their motorcycle and ride responsibly and safely. We spoke with many on Sunday and provided biker-to-biker advice, which was great. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day.”

These officers are normally out on the streets of London targeting thieves on stolen scooters and as lockdown is easing and people are out and about again, thieves are also out targeting those going about their day by snatching phones. 

Sgt Jones added: “It all happens very quickly. That’s why we need the public to help us and follow the advice to lock, chain and cover their scooters and bikes.”

Jail for machete-wielding thieves: Three sentenced after motorbike stolen at knifepoint

First published on 10 June 2021 by Ben Clarke

Armed bike thieves ride away on stolen Yamaha

Three men have been jailed after a terrifying robbery last year in which machetes were used to threaten a victim and steal his motorbike.

Rico Douglas, 21 of Wellesley Gardens, Moseley, Jamiah Clarke, 20 of Gorleston Road, Kings Heath and Rashaan Davis, 21 of Mary Vale Road, Bournville wore surgical masks over their faces and used threats of violence to steal the Yamaha on Sunday, April 19, 2020 in Stratford, Warwickshire.

The victim, a man in his twenties, wasn’t injured and called police to report the offence. The three men were arrested over the following days after being identified in CCTV footage where they can be seen taking the bike from its owner before all three all climbed aboard and rode away without wearing helmets.

The men appeared at Warwick Crown Court on Monday, May 24 and were sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison, six for Douglas, five for Clarke and four for Davis. They had all pleaded guilty to the robbery.

Thieves steal a Yamaha off roader at knifepoint

“This was a serious offence involving threats of violence by masked men wielding machetes,” said investigating officer Det Sgt Jen Baker from Leamington CID after sentencing. “It took place at the start of the first lockdown when anxiety levels amongst the public were already high.

“While others were staying at home keeping each other safe, these three planned and carried out a terrifying robbery with no regard for their victim or the wider public. Thankfully, the victim was not injured but the incident left him understandably shaken.

“I’d like to thank the investigating team for their dedication on this case, which has led to these three offenders being brought to justice for their actions on that day.”

Almost gone in 60 seconds: Owner chases thieves after six bikes are stolen in minutes

First published on 3 June 2021 by Ben Clarke

The shutters at R Spec MX after the ram raid

The owner of Hampshire-based off-road bike garage, R Spec MX, foiled an attempted theft after a Transit was used to ram the shutters at his premises. Richard Mead was woken up at home by text alerts from his CCTV and alarm systems in the early hours of Monday, May 25.

He jumped straight into his car and headed for the garage, which is a couple of miles away, and rang the police to report the crime.

Mead explains what happened: “I always planned if this happened to use a railway bridge up the road to block them in but they were already too far gone for that to work so we waited in a layby for them to come past.

“One of the guys who works for us tried to block the road further up and they just sideswiped his van and barged through with a 4×4. They had the van with five bikes in and then the 4×4 had a Kawasaki KX250 hanging out the back, too.”

The van was abandoned and the bikes were recovered

All of the stolen bikes were restored vintage crossers, including a 1990 Suzuki RM125 and the 1994 KX250, which eventually fell out of the rear of the 4×4 before being recovered.

“We carried on chasing them along country roads until we could see above the hedgerows that the van had stopped around the next corner. I didn’t know what to do because it was just me and my girlfriend and I didn’t want us to get attacked but then the police came up behind us so we carried on.”

It turned out the thieves had abandoned the van and made off in the other vehicle with several police cars and the police helicopter in pursuit, leaving the bikes to be recovered.

Just pleased to have them back

R Spec MX stock and customer bikes in the stolen Transit van

The attempted theft has cost Richard some money repairing the bikes and his employee’s van but it could have been much worse.

He told MCN: “A couple of those bikes belong to customers who would have been gutted if we hadn’t got them back. The truth is that if we’d lost £30-£40k worth of stock there’s a good chance we’d have folded waiting for the insurance to pay out.”

Hampshire Police were able to confirm that the van used in the crime was stolen and that investigations are ongoing.

Hunt is on for stolen bike chop shops here in the UK

First published on 27 May 2021 by Ben Clarke

Motorbikes in a shipping container

Stolen motorbikes can be recovered, used in further crimes, joy-ridden and burnt out or discovered for sale on auction sites, but what about the ones that are never found? Where do they go and what happens to them?

We know that a percentage end up overseas, but that has become an increasingly difficult route for the criminals to take, especially as border scrutiny has increased post-Brexit. Bill Taylor from BikeTrac doesn’t think that as many bikes are making it out of the country these days, not in one piece at least.

“When BikeTrac first started ten years ago we saw more bikes heading towards the ports after they were taken. We either found them in shipping containers or boxed up ready to be shipped so we knew where they were headed. That route has become much rarer now.

“We normally recover a bike very quickly after it has been stolen. The thieves will store a stolen machine for a period of time to see if anyone comes for it and we generally recover it at this stage. But on the odd occasion that the bike is moved on before we get to it, they don’t seem to be heading straight out of the country.

Motorcycle parts on a shelf

“We tracked a customer’s BMW to a yard recently and when the police opened the container where it was being stored, they also found stripped parts from lots of other bikes. There was a swingarm from a Ducati and the number plate from a bike that was all over social media as having been stolen, too.”

Vehicle crime expert Dr Ken German added: “Some bikes certainly make it out in containers but it’s far more lucrative to strip a bike and sell the parts. There’s much less risk in handling parts than there is if you’re caught with a whole bike.”

What can you do to help?

Dr German says that there are ways that us bikers can fight back. “Systems like Datatag or other third party companies are an absolute must,” he said. This is because they can help police identify stripped parts from a specific bike and build up a picture of who has been handling them or selling them on. “If the police enter a premises and find a seat and mudguard, they will have a hell of a job proving anything. But if they carry covert markings that link those parts to a specific stolen bike, it goes a long way to helping them build a case.”

Figures show leap in thefts across Herts and West Mercia

First published on 13 May, 2021 by Ben Clarke

 Make sure your bike is as safe as possible

As the pandemic led thousands to put their bikes into hibernation during the national lockdowns, bike thieves saw chances to steal them dwindle.

The Office for National Statistics reported a 35% drop in crime in general during lockdowns back in 2020 and Police National Computer figures suggest that motorcycle theft dropped by as much as 45% against the same period in 2019.

Now a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Motorcycle Action Group has revealed two police force areas that have bucked the trend. Bike thefts in Hertfordshire jumped from 134 in 2019 to 201 in 2020, an increase of 50% and West Mercia saw a 42% jump in thefts from 103 to 146.

“We still have a few responses to come back, but Hertfordshire and West Mercia’s responses are sticking out like a sore thumb,” said MAG’s Director of Campaigns and Political Engagement, Colin Brown.

“Out of the 34 responses we’ve seen so far, only three have shown an increase. When the national trend is significantly down we have to ask why Hertfordshire and West Mercia have such ominous increases.”

As a result of these figures, MAG wrote directly to all Police and Crime Commissioner candidates for Hertfordshire and West Mercia to request that they pledge to review motorcycle theft in their area and to work with MAG to tackle the issue.

Brown added: “Naturally we would hope that all PCCs will commit to work with us on tackling motorcycle theft. The figures for Hertfordshire and West Mercia make them of particular concern.

“London remains the worst affected area by far, but we cannot ignore such worrying figures coming from these two force areas.”

Nobody from Hertfordshire or West Mercia police was available for comment as MCN went to press.

‘I’m not having that!’ – Brave biker goes on a mission to rescue stolen machine

First published on 05 May, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Mina Bloomfield with her ex's recovered Kawasaki Z1000SX

What started out as a relaxed Friday ride out to try on a new helmet quickly turned into an adrenaline-fuelled surveillance mission for London biker Mina Bloomfield after she discovered that her ex-partner’s machine had been stolen.

According to a neighbour, her ex Paul’s Kawasaki Z1000SX had been lifted into a van by three men. The neighbour had a picture of the theft taking place but hadn’t managed to record the van’s registration. Luckily, the bike was fitted with a tracker and when Mina heard the address it had been moved to, she recognised roughly where it was.

“You hear so much about bikes being stolen and them not coming back and I just thought ‘I’m not having that’,” Mina told MCN. “I needed to go out for fuel anyway, so I thought I’d go and see if I could find the van. I don’t know what possessed me really because you hear horror stories of thieves being tooled-up.”

Mina drove to the address and found two vans that fitted the description and took pictures of the registration plates. “I knew in the back of my mind that the police don’t respond very quickly to bike theft, so I parked up around the corner and sent the images to Paul who confirmed which van it was.

“I didn’t want to get out of the car in case anyone saw me and at this point I thought about what I was actually going to do if the police didn’t turn up; I’m a female alone on a Friday night in a housing estate in a not-so-nice part of Enfield.

Paul's stolen Kawasaki in the back of a van

“I drove around in circles to bide my time and then parked up in a position where I could see the van. I sort of ducked down in my seat because I was so worried someone would see me.”

Luckily, it wasn’t too long before the police arrived, followed by Paul to collect the bike. The van was unlocked and there was only minor damage.

Mina added: “I think I was fuelled by adrenaline and the fact that bike thefts keep happening.”

Trackers are worth the money

This experience has underlined to Mina the importance of trackers, whose own Triumph Bonneville T120 and Suzuki Gladius are both fitted with the devices. “It costs £10-per-month to get it monitored. I wouldn’t be without mine and without his, Paul wouldn’t have got his bike back. Even if the police hadn’t turned up, the tracker meant that I got the reg of the van and could have reported that.”

If you don’t have a tracker fitted, maybe it’s time to think about getting one!

Be careful what you post online: Scammers target social media groups set up to help victims

First published on 28 April, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Stolen motorcycle post on social media

If your motorbike is stolen these days, the first port of call after the police is often social media. Getting the word out can mean that thousands of bikers keep an eye out for it on selling sites or around their local area.

If it gets spotted, legit groups such as Biker Biker can sometimes even go and recover your bike for you. Unfortunately, the scammers and bike thieves can also use take advantage to target the victims of bike crime and even claim previously stolen bikes as their own.

“In the past, people would post the location of a suspected stolen vehicle they found,” explained Sarah Baptiste, one of the admins on the UK Motorcycle Theft Protest UK Facebook group.

“The owner will be in the group or groups, see the post and be thrilled that someone found it. Sadly, we cannot trust everyone that calls us friends. Thieves now see the location and say, ‘yeah that’s mine, was stolen a few days ago, blah blah blah’ and collect it.

“So, I strongly encourage people to firstly report suspected stolen bikes to the police as they can track and contact the rightful owner using their internal database. Never post the exact location of a vehicle that you suspect is stolen.

“Also, the police may want to take a bike or scooter for forensic analysis as we know stolen vehicles are often involved in other crimes like shootings, stabbings, drug runs, muggings and snatching mobile phones.”

Example of scam message sent to victim

Another grim tactic to watch out for involves criminals who get in touch after a victim posts that their bike has been stolen in a group.

Baptiste has seen several examples: “They befriend the owner and try to convince them to pay a fee – anything from £150 to a few hundred with a promise they can trace their vehicles via the ECU or other means – even if there is no tracker fitted. I heard of one recently that claimed to be able to trace a car via its radio antenna system!”

Violent thugs who used threats and weapons before two-wheeled getaways put behind bars

First published on 22 April, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Martin Delaney (rider) and Andy Kiasuka-Kiakanda

Long sentences have been handed down to a group of thugs who used violence and intimidation during a string of robberies in London.

During one incident on Wednesday, 10 April, 2020, the pillion passenger on a moped forced a machete through a gap in a car window, narrowly missing the victim before chasing them into a garden and forcing them to hand over a Rolex watch.

One of the eight, Jordan Northover, was also involved in another attempted watch robbery using a motorbike as the getaway vehicle. The victim in this case stood their ground and was able to escape.

Four members of the gang also attempted to rob a car using an iron bar and tried to smash the window. What they didn’t know was that the occupants of the car were undercover police officers running surveillance on the gang’s activity.

All eight members of the gang

Patrick Delaney (30), Martin Delaney (29), Kiaron Jones-Hewitt (27), Andy Kiasuka-Kiakanda (26), Cheyenne Cato (27), Ryan Leurs (19) and Steven Barton (20) were sentenced to a combined total of over 100 years for the offences.

“The way this gang targeted their victims and threatened them with weapons during their crime spree was truly shocking and abhorrent,” said Detective Sergeant Gary Taylor from the Flying Squad. “The impact these crimes have had on the victims cannot be understated.

“These defendants wrongly thought they wouldn’t be caught. However, Flying Squad officers were able to close the net on these robbers and bring them into custody after a proactive surveillance operation.

“I would like to praise the victims for supporting this prosecution, and I hope these convictions will go some way to giving them some comfort. Across London, officers are working hard to keep the public safe by identifying people involved in serious violence and bringing them to justice.”

Lock up after lockdown: Fears that thieves will cash in on riders getting out and about

First published on 16 April, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Motorcycle disc lock

Bikers’ rights organisation the Motorcycle Action Group are urging people to ‘lock-up after lockdown’ as changes to restrictions mean more opportunity to get out and ride.

Official bike theft numbers for 2020 are still being totted up, but early figures suggest that it dropped by as much as 60% from 2019. This was largely thanks to the pandemic meaning  motorcycles were tucked away in garages more, and more owners were at home all day, but as many of us whip the covers off our bikes post-lockdown, the thieves will have more opportunities and there are fears that theft numbers could rise sharply.

“We would all like to think that the 2021 motorcycle theft figures will remain low, but that is probably an unrealistic expectation,” said MAG’s Director of Campaigns and Political Engagement, Colin Brown. Many riders will have used their motorcycles far less during 2020, but with the end of restrictions in sight that situation is bound to change.

MAG leaflets urge owners to lock up after lockdown

“MAG will continue to campaign for more secure parking facilities, and increased focus from police forces, but of course we need to be sure that owners also take security of their bikes seriously.”

As well as campaigning at a ministerial level for more secure bike parking, MAG will be pushing their ‘Lock it or Lose it’ leafleting and also their ‘Lock 2 Lock’ initiative which urges riders to loop their security chain through that of another machine in locations where no secure rails are provided.

Brown added: “We should not become complacent, and new riders will need to be educated about the most effective security choices available. The simple message is to lock up your bike when parking in public spaces.”

MAG say they will be publishing the 2020 bike theft stats by police force area as soon as they have all the latest data.

Met crackdown: Big wins for Police in fight against moped-enabled crime

First published on 7 April, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Alfie Atherton and Reed Roberts

The Metropolitan Police had a very busy few days at the end of March foiling moped-enabled robbers and securing prison sentences for members of an organised drug network that used motorbikes and scooters for their deliveries.

First, on March 25, officers made an arrest in connection with a series of moped-enabled robberies in South West London in October 2020. Officers from the Met’s specialist Operation Venice team were deployed over several weeks before the phone of a victim led them to three men, one of whom was arrested.

Then on March 26, six members of a sophisticated Brazilian drugs network were sentenced to a combined total of over 51 years in prison for using motorbikes and scooters to deliver Class A, B and C drugs.

As part of the operation against them, officers recovered more than 2000 litres of the drug GBL worth more than £2.2m, which was the largest quantity of the substance ever seized.

And finally, on March 27, 2021 two men who stole more than £40,000 worth of cash and perfume during a series of robberies in the West End before using a moped as a getaway vehicle were jailed for 18 years.

CCTV footage of a raid involving Atherton and Roberts

Alfie Atherton, 29, of Tower Hamlets and Reed Roberts, 30, of Islington were convicted following an investigation by the Met’s Flying Squad.

“Atherton and Roberts caused chaos in the West End, even threatening and using violence, in their bid to steal cash and high-value goods,” said Detective Constable Lenny O’Keeffe, the investigating officer from the Flying Squad.

“Atherton even caused more than £45,000 worth of damage to two stores when he attempted to steal even more expensive goods.

“They soon discovered that crime does not pay and thanks to the investigative work by the Flying Squad, they will instead be spending a lengthy period of time behind bars.”

See the LiteLok: Brit firm claim world’s lightest ‘flexible’ Gold-rated security

First published on April 1, 2021 by Ben Clarke

LiteLok Core

Lightweight bike security specialists LiteLok have come up with an improved version of their Sold Secure Gold standard motorbike lock and chain. The new version is called the Moto Core and, while sharing the same features as the existing Moto 108, it’s been completely redesigned.

Rather than a traditional chain, the LiteLok comprises a belt made from the firm’s own Boaflexcore Plus material and an inline, hardened steel lock body. Boaflexcore Plus is a 24mm thick belt made from multiple layers.

Starting from the outside, there’s a braided sleeve for abrasion resistance, then a bonded plant-based polymer, which provides the first line of defence from cutting tools and also prevents corrosion.

The third layer is made from a 19mm interlocking hardened steel exoskeleton, which absorbs destructive energy during an attack and encases the final high tensile steel core layer.

LiteLok Core exploded diagram

The locking mechanism is made from hardened steel with an energy-absorbing stainless steel structure that is resilient to attacks, including -40°C freeze spray and hammer/chisel blows. Finally, a pick-resistant lock clicks the belt closed. As with the previous incarnation, two locks that use the same key can purchased together and either linked or used side-by-side.

The outcome of all of this design and technology is a portable lock that weighs just 2.5kg (125cm length) but still achieves the Sold Secure Gold rating for motorcycle security. Traditional security chains that make the grade typically weigh more like 6kg.

The new LiteLok Moto Core is available to pre-order until Saturday, April 18 on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter with introductory prices starting at £110.

Production at scale is planned for next month with deliveries starting in May. At the time of writing, the project has raised almost £160,000 against a target of just £25,000.

‘Heartless’ bike thieves locked up: Violent assailants jailed for theft as fourth dies fleeing scene

First published on March 24, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Birmingham bike thieves jailed

Three men have been jailed for their involvement in the theft of a motorbike in June 2019. A fourth man was killed as he rode away on the victim’s machine and had a head-on collision with a car.

Nirvair Lall, Inderjot Singh, Aaron Dhaliwal and the fourth man pushed their 31-year-old victim off his Honda CBR600 and assaulted him at Barr Beacon Park in Great Barr, north-west of Birmingham in summer 2020.

A 19-year-old man made off on the motorbike followed by the other three in a Ford Fiesta before the collision just up the road in Pheasey. After stopping briefly at the scene of the crash, the men were seen running back to the car and leaving.

Lall and Singh, both 21, later returned to the scene of the accident and were identified by witnesses. They were arrested along with Dhaliwal, 22, the registered keeper of the Fiesta.

L-R Dhaliwal, Lall and Singh

At sentencing on Friday, March 12, 2021 Judge Richard Bond described Lall’s actions as ‘cold and heartless’ after he fled the scene ‘clearly knowing it was serious as someone was delivering CPR’.

“That was in stark contrast to the victim, who despite having been beaten and robbed, still asked a witness about the condition of the deceased. The victim showed more concern, than you did for your own friend,” the judge added.

Lall denied his involvement but was found guilty after a five-day crown court trial. He was jailed for three years and six months. Singh changed his plea to guilty at the start of the trial and was sentenced to three years and one month, and Dhaliwal, who pleaded guilty to the offence, received two years and four months.

Detective Sergeant Kerry Haywood told MCN: “This was a tragic outcome for a young man to lose his life even though a crime had been committed. His friends not only have to serve a sentence, but have to live with the circumstances of his death.”

Humberside Police turn to DNA tech in fight against motorcycle theft and crime

First published on 18 March, 2021 by Ben Clarke

PC Chris Mashford with warning sign

Police in North East Lincolnshire have become the latest to adopt DNA spray in the fight against nuisance motorcycle riding, along with the related crime and antisocial behaviour.

The spray carries a unique code and UV marker which can be used as evidence to tie a suspect to a specific time, place and potentially stolen machine when building a case. The solution is almost impossible to wash off and is invisible to the naked eye.

“This is another really good example of work we are doing to reduce the number of motorbikes, mopeds and quads ridden unlawfully in our area,” said Inspector Martin Hopper, leading Operation Yellowfin in North East Lincolnshire.

“Having spoken to many of our local residents we know it’s an area that really concerns them and we are committed to tackling this issue. Introducing this new technology will contribute to reducing anti-social behaviour and criminal activity and will, most importantly, reduce the nuisance caused to our communities.

How Selecta DNA tagging works

“One of the key roles of our local Neighbourhood Policing Teams is to be out and about in their communities and support those riding their motorbikes and mopeds in accordance with the law.”

The force is also calling on members of the public to make it as difficult as possible for bikes and quads to fall into the wrong hands. Inspector Hopper added: “If you have a motorbike or moped, we would encourage you to invest in a good quality lock and always ensure your motorbike is out of public view and securely locked away.

“This DNA spray is just one more step in tackling the crime and antisocial behaviour caused by nuisance motorcycles and we continue to look at innovations and ways in which to reduce the impact of anti-social riding of motorcycles.”

Drone wars! Police and bike thieves take the battle to the skies

First published on 10 March, 2021 by Ban Clarke

Off road police team and drone

Police in England, Wales and Scotland have reported seeing drones in the air when they have been recovering stolen property – including motorbikes. It is believed the unmanned aircraft are being used to check there are no officers in attendance or surveillance nearby before the thieves return to recover stashed vehicles.

In one recent instance, Essex Police were able to locate a drone pilot near to the location of a stolen digger. The drone equipment was impounded before officers discovered that the vehicle the pilot was using had also been stolen.

But it’s not only the bad guys who have been taking to the air. Police in Nottinghamshire have made use of drone technology combined with off-road bike teams on the ground to tackle illegal off roading in the county.

The eye in the sky was deployed in the Watnall area as part of an operation that resulted in two warnings being issued and more operations are in the pipeline according to offficers.

Off road police team on patrol

“We have more dates planned for the future to tackle this type of activity which we know is causing a lot of misery within our local communities,” said Alison Bryan, Neighbourhood Policing Sergeant for Broxtowe North.

“With the lighter nights and better weather we have seen an increase in reports in relation to people using off-road vehicles who show little or no regard for the laws of the road, the damage they cause or the threat they pose to members of the public in this popular walking area.

“Nottinghamshire Police has seized and crushed bikes as part of previous off-road biking operations, including vehicles being ridden illegally in the Watnall area.

“We hope this sends out a clear message that once we’ve identified offenders we will utilise all of our powers to take action which could ultimately end up with their bikes being crushed,” concluded Sgt Bryan.

Police launch bike amnesty to stop thugs getting their hands on unloved machines

First published on 24 February, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Operation Yellowfin bike amnesty

Humberside Police have taken a novel approach to tackling antisocial riding by asking people to surrender any old and disused motorbikes, mopeds and quads.

Nuisance machines ridden illegally in public spaces are one of the most common concerns for people living in the North East Lincolnshire area, according to a recent survey. Police say the illegal riders are often involved in other crime and they hope getting unused machines out of circulation will reduce the scale of the problem.

“It is quite common for old bikes to be stored in sheds, garages or even gardens,” said Inspector Martin Hopper, who leads the area’s motorcycle crime taskforce Operation Yellowfin.

He said the bikes are then vulnerable to theft and end up being ragged around roads and open spaces, which is why it makes sense for there to be an amnesty for unwanted vehicles.

A motorbike seized by Operation Yellowfin in Lincolnshire

“This surrender service will also help responsible parents who are concerned about the risk to their children and may wish to dispose of such vehicles,” he said. “We don’t want to be criminalising and prosecuting young people, but if they break the law, action will be taken.”

Anyone in the region who has an old bike they no longer want can call the police and arrange for officers to take it away. The scheme was introduced in January 2021 and four machines were surrendered for collection in the first week alone.

Inspector Hopper added: “We remain committed to tackling this issue, with activities aimed at reducing anti-social behaviour and criminal activity which will reduce the nuisance caused to our communities.”

Operation Yellowfin was launched in 2018 to address the crime associated with motorbikes ridden illegally off-road. Dozens of stolen machines have been recovered or seized as a result of the initiative and offenders have been caught and dealt with.

Police pursuit ends in jail term for no-licence lockdown-buster on bike with cloned plates

First published on 18 February, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Declan McCalla

West Midlands Police have released footage showing the reckless behaviour of a criminal during the first lockdown last year.

Declan McCalla sped through residential streets clocking up to 90mph in 30mph zones, ran red lights, mounted pavements and performed what officers called “shocking overtakes” but failed to lose the marked police bikes giving chase. He came to the attention of the police after reports of a rider doing stunts in the streets.

McCalla also rode the wrong way around several roundabouts before heading across football pitches where the eight-mile pursuit came to a crashing end. Ditching the bike, the 25-year-old made a run for it but was later found hiding in a porch.

The white Yamaha MT-07 McCalla is seen riding in the video had cloned plates that matched an orange bike registered in the Preston area.

He later admitted dangerous driving and riding without a licence or insurance for which he was handed a 14-month prison sentence at Wolverhampton Crown Court earlier this year.

“The standard of McCalla’s riding was truly shocking; he ramped up pavements and sped across public parks. He could easily have put pedestrians at risk of serious injury,” said Traffic Sergeant Mitch Darby.

“But it was all the more outrageous given that we caught him during the middle of lockdown. People were being urged to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives – but McCalla used the quiet roads to ride at excess speed.”

“Anti-social off-road biking is a real concern for our communities. We’ve responded by running operations to catch offenders and they will continue throughout the summer. Anyone who rides dangerously – or rides an off-road bike illegally on public roads or in parks – runs the risk of being arrested and having their bike seized and crushed,” Sgt Darby added.

Bike theft pair put behind bars: Thugs threatened recovery agent to re-steal scooter

First published on 11 February, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Alfie Bruynel caught on camera performing a wheelie

Two criminals have been sentenced to prison thanks to the Met’s Operation Venice. Alfie Bruynel, 20, and David Curtis, 20, both from London, had previously pleaded guilty to a number of crimes, including vehicle theft.

In one particularly brazen incident in April last year, the pair re-stole a Piaggio they had previously taken as it was being recovered. Once the police had left the scene, Bruynel and Curtis threatened the recovery agent and made off with the scooter.

But officers from the Venice team were able to construct a case using CCTV evidence.

Each of the men had racked up a sizeable list of offences by the time they were arrested. Curtis was stopped riding a stolen BMW R1200GS while carrying an angle grinder and hammer in November 2019. Bruynel was identified doing wheelies on a stolen Vespa in March 2020.

Both were spotted loading a stolen Ducati into a van in April 2020 and were arrested when the tracker on a stolen Vespa led police to their location in May of the same year.

Alfie Bruynel (left) and David Curtis

“This is an excellent result that puts two criminals behind bars,” said PC Kate Dennell, the investigating officer from the Venice squad. “Both have committed multiple crimes and this kind of behaviour has no place on our streets.

“The effects of becoming a victim of theft often last far beyond the replacement of the stolen items. I hope both of these men use this time to realise the impact that their crimes have on the people of London.”

Bruynel was sentenced to a total of two years’ imprisonment, as well as an 18-month driving ban, at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Tuesday, January 5.

Curtis was sentenced to a total of 12 months’ imprisonment at the same court on Friday, January 22. Curtis was also in breach of a suspended sentence and has been sentenced to a further three months in jail – to run consecutively.

Warning: New trend sees thieves steal dash units from parked bikes

First published on 4 February, 2021 by Ben Clarke

BMW R1250GS TFT dash

A worrying new crime has emerged whereby thieves target the thin film transistor – or TFT – instrument panels on high-end motorbikes and scooters. MCN has been made aware of several cases on BMWs including the C400 scooter and R1200/1250GS models.

In the case of the GS, the problem is commonplace enough that several aftermarket security firms now make products to protect the screens.

We spoke to one victim of TFT theft who had the instrument panel from his BMW C400X scooter taken while he was at work. “I had my Yamaha MT-07 stolen and recovered three times and I thought the scooter would be less desirable to thieves,” said Luis Costa, 39, from London.

“I bought the BMW, I fitted a tracker and an alarm and I spent £200 on two disc locks. Then, the first time I rode to work I came back to discover the TFT had been stolen while I was parked.”

Stolen BMW C400X TFT dash

When Costa shared his experience on Facebook, he was surprised to discover that other owners had the same issue. “One person said that he had tried removing his own TFT panel to see how easy it was and found that putting it back was the hard bit. It’s just held in place by three rubber fixings, you don’t have to damage the bike to get it off.”

The TFT screen is a £615 extra on the C400X, but Costa has been quoted £1200 to replace the unit, and that’s provided there is no damage to the wiring. He added: “BMW need to do more. They just say this is a matter for the police and my insurance.”

MCN contacted BMW Motorrad UK and they provided the following statement: “We are aware of a small number of incidents involving the theft of TFT displays. We take security very seriously and we are investigating this in more detail. As always, we encourage riders to deter any thieves by parking in a secure location, using a bike cover where possible, and fitting an anti-theft alarm and tracker to their motorcycle.”

Volunteer group recover stolen one-off Triumph Scrambler custom

First published on 21 January, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Thornton Hundred Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE Image: Thornton Hundred

Crime-busting group, Stolen Motorcycle Recovery London (SMRL), managed to recover this custom Triumph after it was stolen in the SE1 area of the city earlier this month.

Luckily, the Scrambler 1200 XE was fitted with a BikeTrac unit, which meant it could be found quickly and returned to its rightful owner – proving just how valuable trackers can be in the fight against theft.

“We were struggling but used some of the kit we carry for BikeTrac equipped bikes, as well as a fair amount of detective work to locate the bike hidden away in Greenwich,” said a post on the SMRL Facebook page. “The owner came to collect and, needless to say, he was very happy to recover his one-of-a-kind bike!”

The Thornton Hundred Triumph is described by the custom builder as the world’s first wide wheel Scrambler 1200 XE. Using 3D scans of the donor bike, Thornton Hundred were able to design and build custom components such as the carbon mudguards and numberplate holder, along with adding a custom high-level exhaust and a selection of Triumph Bobber components to create the end result. No wonder the owner was so delighted to get the bike back!

That wasn’t the end of the day’s work for SMRL though, as a second Triumph was discovered in a part of Greenwich often used to stash stolen machines.

Second Triumph recovered by SMRL in one day

With the help of the Met Police, the owner of the second bike was contacted. SMRL added: “A massive thank you to those who have assisted in providing intel via our social channels and website – it always gets actioned even if we’re snowed under.”

BikeTrac units use a combination of GPS, GPRS and GSM as well as radio frequency signals that allow stolen bikes to be tracked with a high level of accuracy. The firm claim a recovery rate of 94% over 10 years, equating to £10m worth of motorcycles being recovered.

Hampshire Police will chase suspects on bikes says senior officer

First published on 21 January, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Tactical contact used to stop a suspect

Hampshire Police have come under fire after a social media post said that they do not chase suspects on motorbikes because it is too dangerous – and now a senior officer has stepped in to tell MCN they will chase suspects.

The original statement, which appeared on the Southampton police Facebook page, said: “Hampshire Police do not currently pursue motorcycles for a number of reasons. The main one reason being that by pursuing these riders, their actions and driving becomes a lot more dangerous and reckless, placing not only themselves at a higher risk, but also the general public.”

The post, which has since been deleted, went on to describe the ways in which motorbike theft is dealt with by the force and the tools at their disposal, including ANPR cameras and CCTV.

Southampton Cops Facebook post

It’s not the first time the force has gone public with such a claim. In April last year there were complaints about youths riding illegally in Southampton and a representative told the Southern Daily Echo: “We have had incidents where both members of the public and police officers have been knocked down by motorcyclists in the Southampton West area. As such Hampshire police will not authorise a pursuit under these circumstances.”

Then in August, a suspect who failed to stop in connection with a shooting in Andover was pursued and died at the scene of an accident.

Now Chief Inspector Ricky Dhanda has told MCN that they will pursue motorcycles, if it is safe to do so: “On occasion officers will not pursue motorcycles due to the inherent dangers that the motorcyclists pose to themselves, the police and members of the public. 

“If, however, circumstances are such that it is considered safe and proportionate to carry out a pursuit, this will be authorised. We take all allegations of crime seriously and investigate.”

Sniffing out trouble: Dogs join the search to help police track down stolen bikes

First published on 8 January, 2021 by Ben Clarke

SelectaDNA search dog in action

Sniffer dogs have been trained to seek out metal tagged with DNA markings, which could help police find stolen motorbikes much faster.

DNA spray has been used for a few years now in the fight against bike crime, with excellent results. Officers use a special canister to tag a rider and their machine with a liquid that is almost impossible to wash off completely and carries a distinct DNA signature. Forensic teams can use the presence of this liquid on a suspect’s clothing or skin to tie them to a specific motorbike and place, which is invaluable when building a case.

Now SelectaDNA, the firm behind the tech, say they’ve worked with Search Dogs UK to train dogs to seek out the markings. They’ve already helped the Met Police with the Operation Ferrous campaign, which resulted in more than 10 arrests, a scrap yard closure, the recovery of £4600 of Thames Water cable and 50kg of BT cable. Now they say the concept is ready to be rolled out to bikes.

“Complementing existing police search procedures, the SelectaDNA search dogs are able to sniff for stolen metal in places like scrap yards, and stolen property during search warrants, where forensic markings are not immediately visible to the human eye, even with a UV light,” say the firm.

“As humans, we can only search in 2D – in the line of sight – but dogs can search in 3D by using their nose. They can be incredibly accurate and can pinpoint their target to within a couple of centimetres, at which stage police can use traditional search techniques like UV lights to take samples or identify the unique SelectaDNA code.”

Motorcycle crime expert and Met Police consultant Dr Ken German is optimistic about the technique, adding: “Specialist dogs can be trained to locate many things from drugs, human remains to Sim cards, so using them to sniff out stripped or cut up motorcycles that have covert markings would clearly assist in volume police searches.”

New police off-road squad includes title-winning enduro rider

First published on January 1, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Ellie Cooke and the team from the new squad

Bike criminals in North Yorkshire who think heading away from the tarmac will help them evade the police are in for a shock as there’s a new off-road team on the block, and they’ve got a multiple enduro and sprint champion among their ranks.

Like many areas across the UK, North Yorkshire has seen a rise in reports of anti-social behaviour and crime associated with bikes. This year the force received more than 100 calls about incidents linked to off-road bikes between April and July alone and say that it affects both rural and urban communities as well as fragile local wildlife.

North Yorkshire Police prepare to tackle off-road motorcycle crime

To fight back, the new team of four officers will ride Honda CRF250L motorbikes and will look to engage with off-road bikers to educate where they can and enforce the law when required. They can also use their specialist skills to access hard-to-reach areas, search for missing people, tackle rural and wildlife crime, deter cross-border criminality, and support community events.

The team includes PC Ellie Cooke who – as well as being a police officer – was the 2019 British Ladies Enduro Champion, and the British Ladies Sprint Champion in 2019 and 2020.

“When I heard about the off-road motorcycle team, I knew that this would be the perfect role for me, as I could transfer my off-road riding skills into work,” she said. “I knew from a young age I wanted to be a police officer, and there is nothing better than being able to do the job I love while riding a motorbike! I am looking forward to my new role in the team, and I am excited to see what we can achieve together.”

Inspector Kevin Kelly, who developed and implemented the team, added: “Completion of this project has come about through partnership working with South Yorkshire Police, who have helped with training and mentoring, and the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner who provided funding for safety kit.

“The team is now in a position to support a range of policing operations in urban and rural areas – from busy town centres to remote National Parks. I know they will make a real difference in our communities.”

Armed and dangerous: Seven years for Leicestershire bike criminal

First published on 17 December, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Nikodem Iwaszko

A man has been jailed for seven years after police linked him to lock-ups and garages across Leicestershire where five stolen motorbikes, two stolen cars and a cache of weapons were found.

Nikodem Iwaszko, 21, was found guilty of six counts of possessing a prohibited firearm, possession of a firearm without a firearms certificate, possession of ammunition without a certificate or authority and six counts of possession of criminal property following a trial at Leicester Crown Court.

Iwaszko had tried to distance himself from the properties by providing false details but the police managed to gather enough evidence to prove otherwise and secure a conviction.

“This was a detailed operation following information received which involved a considerable amount of teamwork across East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) to recover the firearms and vehicles and to secure sufficient evidence to charge Iwaszko,” said Detective Chief Inspector James Avery of EMSOU.

“Thanks to this intense work, numerous firearms have been prevented from falling into the wrong hands and a dangerous individual has been brought to justice.”

The illegal items, which included three sawn-off shotguns, a handgun, a self-loading pistol, a stun gun and ammunition as well as the stolen vehicles were all recovered following warrants executed by EMSOU at two garages – one in Kenilworth Road, Wigston, and one in Langford Way, Leicester – as well as at Iwaszko’s home address in Cross Street, Wigston.

When arrested, Iwaszko denied the offences but evidence gathered by officers linking him to the items led to the convictions with police work being commended in court. He was sentenced in November having previously pleaded guilty to five counts of possession of criminal property.

EMSOU is a unit of police officers and staff from across the East Mids who support the Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire forces.

Fuellish teen guilty: 180mph rider caught at the pumps awaits court sentencing

First published on 9 December, 2020 by Ben Clarke

The moment Dragoi was arrested at a fuel station

A teenager from London has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, failing to stop for police, driving a motor vehicle without a licence, and driving without insurance after a 180mph pursuit through four counties.

Marian Vasilica Dragoi, 19, was eventually arrested at a service station – where he stopped to refuel after riding the wrong way on the M1 – on suspicion of theft of a motorcycle. Dragoi turned out to be the rightful owner of the bike, but it was displaying a false number plate and he had no licence allowing him to ride it.

Officers from Operation Venice were dealing with an unrelated incident in May when Dragoi and a number of other riders cut across their path. During the following pursuit Dragoi was clocked riding at speeds of 70mph in a 20 zone, running red lights, riding on the wrong side of roads and on pavements.

The National Police Air Service helicopter was called in when the police cars lost sight of him and he was subsequently clocked at 150mph on the M1 in Hertfordshire and 180mph in Bedfordshire. Officers were able to swoop in and make an arrest before Dragoi managed to fill up at the garage forecourt.

Dragoi using an M1 slip road the wrong way

“At one point of the pursuit, Dragoi went straight through every single red light he was confronted with, rode on the wrong side of the road in his attempts to get away and even mounted pavements,” said arresting officer, Sergeant Tony McGovern, from the Met’s Operation Venice Command.

“Throughout the pursuit, he continued to ride in a dangerous manner, and he only had the NPAS helicopter tracking him – without any police vehicles on the ground anywhere near him. He failed to stop for police and put the lives of other road users into serious danger.

“Our highly trained Operation Venice officers are out on the streets of London every day fighting moped, scooter and motorbike enabled crimes and I hope this case acts as a deterrent to anyone considering such erratic behaviour on our roads.”

Dragoi will be sentenced at Wood Green Crown Court on January 14 next year.

Bikers warned: Don’t drop your guard

First published on 3 December, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Bikers warned not to drop their guard

The Motorcycle Crime Reduction Group (MCRG) have urged bikers not to be complacent about theft despite positive stats  released during lockdown. The Office for National Statistics reported a 35% drop in crime during lockdown back in August  and Police National Computer figures suggest as much as a 45% drop in motorcycle theft against the same period last year. But MCRG members are advising caution because they say many thefts are not included in these stats. 

“Feedback from members suggests that the national figures do not give us the full picture on motorcycle theft,” the group said in a statement.

“The national vehicle crime nor vehicles which are not registered with the DVLA, such as off-road bikes. 

“Businesses that monitor and recover bikes fitted with trackers are anecdotally reporting increases in thefts. The success and increasing numbers of trackers means that stolen bikes are often recovered quickly, and thus never get added to the PNC.”

The Motorcycle Crime Reduction Group is a partnership comprising representatives from rider interest groups, the insurance and security industries, motorcycle manufacturers and retailers, the police and with links to the Home Office. While an increase in the uptake of trackers is a positive outcome and the more bikes that can be recovered, the better, it’s worth bearing in mind that every motorcycle recovered has to have been taken in the first place and could have been damaged in the process. And if you don’t have a tracker fitted then this statistical improvement doesn’t apply to you and so you should be just as careful as ever to make sure your pride and joy stays safe.

  • Park in a busy spot in the day
  • At night, if away from home,
  • park in a well-lit area
  • Vary your parking place
  • Use a motorcycle parking bay with an anchor point
  • Use a ‘Secured Car Park’
  • Lock, chain and cover your bike when it is parked
  • Keep the lock and chain off the ground
  • Set an immobiliser and alarm
  • Keep it out of sight at home
  • Use an approved GPS/VHF/RF satellite tracking system

Police target hooligan gang after off-road riding thugs cause chaos

First published 25 November 2020 by Ben Clarke

Police target hooligan gang after off-road riding thugs cause chaos

South Yorkshire Police’s Off Road Team have given local law-breakers a nasty shock. Officers originally foiled an attempt by a criminal gang to bring Sheffield to a standstill on Halloween at the end of October. Now, video from the event has led police to a location in the Darnall area of the city where they sought a search warrant for stolen vehicles.

More detail of the Halloween chaos has also come to light, including reports of dangerous riding. Police believe that around 30 off-road bikes and quads were being ridden illegally around the Manor area of Sheffield. Officers responded, backed-up by support from the National Police Air Service fixed-wing aircraft.

Across the afternoon, 11 machines were seized, five people arrested and another five reported on summons.

“Our communities tell us that off-road bikes are a problem and we understand the nuisance and fear they cause,” said Roads Policing Sergeant Matt Duffy. “This type of behaviour will not be tolerated in South Yorkshire and we will use all powers available to us to bring the offenders before the courts.”

Some suspects are still being sought by the police, including a man who was dressed as a clown during the Halloween rideout. He allegedly fled the scene of a collision on a motorcycle. South Yorkshire Police have issued the following statement: “On Halloween, a man – dressed as a clown – was riding as part of a group of illegal off-road bikers across Sheffield and Rotherham.

“At 12.26pm, an off-road bike is said to have been involved in a collision with a grey Fiat Punto on Ashpool Close, Woodhouse. The rider fled the scene.

“We’d now like to speak to the man in the costume, as we believe he can assist with enquiries. If you have any information or dash-cam footage featuring this clown, please call 101 quoting incident number 407 of October 31, 2020.”

New tech threat: Warning as thieves turn to using cameras

First published on 18 November, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Thieves are using nature cameras to case properties

Motorcycle crime expert and Met Police Consultant, Dr Ken German, has warned that motorcycle thieves may be using wildlife cameras to case their victims’ properties.

“Spy cameras similar to those seen on television capturing images of animal activity at night have been found on suspects believed responsible for burglaries and stealing motorcycles,” he said.

“These cameras, many of which can be camouflaged, would be strapped to a tree or fence with the intention of establishing when householders are not at home in order to break in or steal their machines. The thieves retrieve the camera when they go in for the bike.”

The only way to combat this is to be extra vigilant and keep an eye on any posts, trees or fences that overlook your property. Dr German also says there is some suggestion that the cameras are installed after a tracking device is first used to find out where you live, so keep an eye out for any devices stuck to your bike, too.

The criminals aren’t the only ones turning to camera tech, though. Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Police have been trialling a live stream video system called GoodSAM which turns any smartphone into a surveillance camera linked to the police station.

Instant-On-Scene allows the public to live stream an incident directly to the police control room along with their precise location and there’s no need for an app, either.

Officers can also use the system to stream their own video to HQ or to each other and even drone footage can be integrated.

Callers who dial 999 have to give consent to GoodSAM before a stream is started which, together with rigorous risk assessments, ensures that no-one is ever placed at increased risk by sharing video footage. This means that members of the public who see a crime being committed, for example the theft of a motorbike, can simultaneously call the police and provide video evidence.

Fright night for stolen machines: Police tackle illegal rideout activity on Halloween weekend

First published on 11 November, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Seized machines from Halloween 2020 in Sheffield

October 31 has become a popular date for so-called rideout gangs to terrorise the streets of towns and cities in large numbers, attempting to cause enough disruption with their activity to bring urban areas to a standstill. 2020 was no different but one force in Sheffield fought back and then posted a slightly tongue-in-cheek retort on their own social media account.

The sheffcity_rideout_gang posted to their Instagram account on Sunday, October 18 to advertise their Halloween rideout. They invited as many people as possible to attend the event on October 31. The post read: “Let’s show them how Sheff City really shut it down.”

But a post from South Yorkshire Police Off Road Team the following day suggested that activities didn’t go as planned.

“Well Saturday was certainly an interesting day watching the cream of sheffcity_rideout_gang fall off and crash into each other,” said the post, which was accompanied by a host of images of seized motorbikes and quads.

“These elite next generation MXGP and MotoGP riders must have been put off by tricky conditions which affected their usual smoke the cops abilities.”

Rider stopped and arrested in Sheffield

The post goes on to say that 12 quads and bikes were recovered, six of which had been stolen, and five arrests were made.

“These fun seeking riders that have no affiliation to the sport or bikers in general were left looking pretty silly. Your bikes and quads have been seized you are not getting them back, even the ones that were not stolen.

“For the two quads SYP Operational Support aircraft and team chased for over two hours from Sheffield to Rotherham, one of which was a 69-plate quad stolen recently. The reality, looking at the footage, is jail time – even with our justice system. Worth it?

“For the others caught disqualification, fines and maybe a loss of income. Sheffield was not shut down!”

Police team up with filling stations to starve bike criminals of petrol

First published on 5 November, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Police officer with filling station worker

Motorcycle thieves who “make life a misery for their community” are about to run out of gas. Officers from Northumbria Police’s Operation Benelli, the specialist task force fighting motorcycle theft and related crime in the north east, have teamed up with petrol stations to target motorcycle thieves and antisocial riders.

The theory goes that those riding bikes which have been stolen, associated with crime or not road legal, will be more likely to fill up jerry cans than risk riding onto a garage forecourt with all its CCTV and ANPR. Officers also found that underage teenagers had been buying fuel for their bikes or asking adults to do it on their behalf.

So, the police are asking local garages to ask for proof of ID of anyone buying fuel in this way and also ask what the fuel is for. This information will be recorded and the police will use it to make sure they are targeting the right areas.

“That list will also provide us with an opportunity to identify any other unusual patterns of behaviour and ensure the fuel has been purchased for a legitimate reason,” said Sergeant Paul Cook, of the Gateshead East Neighbourhood Policing Team.

Filling station poster

“By working with local businesses, and our Operation Benelli team, we are already seeing results and have reduced disorder in Gateshead. That work will continue and we hope our efforts will reassure residents in our region that we are committed to targeting individuals who make life a misery.”

The force hope that stopping the thieves from obtaining fuel will deter them from stealing bikes in the first place, but it also helps them to build evidence. If someone who they know doesn’t legitimately own a motorbike is regularly buying fuel in a can this can feed into investigations.

Posters displayed at garages will explain the scheme to members of the public. Although there is no legal obligation for customers to provide their info, the garages can refuse service to those who fail to.

Forces continue campaign against two-wheeled criminals

First published on 29 October, 2020 by Ben Clarke

West Mercia officers seize illegal bikes

Police in two different parts of the UK closed out September with great results in the fight against bike theft and associated crime.

Firstly, a crackdown on illegal off-roading in Telford led West Mercia Police to seize four motorbikes in the Rough Park area of the town.

The action followed reports that riders were illegally using pathways and bridleways leading to the park, as well as riding in the park itself, causing considerable danger to walkers and horse riders.

Officers from Cleveland’s Op Kick Start

During a day of action, four bikes that were being illegally ridden or used in Rough Park were seized and one man was arrested for dangerous driving.

“Put simply, illegal off-road motorbike riders are putting people’s lives in danger by using pathways and bridleways and it must stop,” said Telford South Safer Neighbourhood Team Sergeant Richard Jones.

“It is illegal to ride an off-road motorbike or quad bike on public land and private land without the owner’s permission and those caught doing so could face having their bike seized and crushed. Rough Park is a natural habitat and needs to be protected, however, at the moment considerable damage is being caused to the land.”

Police have been canvassing local schools to raise awareness of the dangers of illegal off-road riding. They have also been reminding fuel stations that it is illegal to sell petrol in jerry cans to youths.

Meanwhile, Cleveland Police seized six vehicles including three bikes they suspect to be stolen in Stockton. The day of action, which also included the seizure of £10,000 worth of suspected cannabis and several arrests, was part of Operation Kick Start.

Sergeant Gary Cookland said: “We’ve seen some examples of reckless driving of illegal off-road bikes and this simply won’t be tolerated. We will take swift action against anyone who disregards the law.”

A reader poll result on crushing bikes

The long paw of the law: South Yorkshire Police use canine power against bike crime

First published on 21 October, 2020 by Ben Clarke

PD Luna with recovered helmets

South Yorkshire Police have had plenty of success in beating bike crime with their dedicated off-road motorcycle team. But this week, it’s a furry member of the force in the form of Police Dog Luna who’s been leading the charge against motorcycle theft.

“Yesterday our Dogs and Roads Policing team went hunting for a suspected stolen motorbike seen bombing around the streets causing grief for local people and road users in Sheffield,” revealed South Yorkshire Police Operational Support.

“The riders often have no regard for the safety of other people, riding on pavements, footpaths, and across parks, and it can be very difficult to safely pursue these people, but thankfully we are bit smarter than them!”

Officers in patrol cars tried several times to pursue the suspects but were unable to follow them when they went off road, so a different approach was needed. PD Luna and handler, PC Matt Aris, were deployed to patrol the woods and cut off another escape route.

The suspects were surprised by the police dog’s presence and ditched the bike, along with their helmets. PD Luna found one of the suspects (who cannot be named due to his age), and he was arrested. Police say the bike will be returned to its rightful owner as soon as possible.

The force’s off-road team have been keeping busy, too, including having to ‘steal’ back a stolen motorbike.

Community intelligence led officers to a BMW R1150GS in the Low Edges area of Sheffield which was displaying a false number plate and turned out to be a stolen machine.

A video on the South Yorkshire Police Off Road Team’s Facebook page shows police using an angle grinder to cut through the security chain fitted to the bike in order to retrieve it – effectively using the same technique as thieves but for a rather more legitimate reason.

Newcastle Police give bike crime the shove – literally

First published on 16 October, 2020 by Ben Clarke

PC Adam Fegan makes arrest

Bodycam footage has been released of the moment PC Adam Fegan surprised a teenage bike thief and pushed him off a stolen scooter before making an arrest. The 17-year-old had taken the Honda PCX125 from outside a care home in Whitley Bay without realising it had a tracker fitted.

The owner reported the theft to police who found and confronted the thief, who can’t be named due to his age. He panicked and fled on the Honda, leading police on a chase across Newcastle that also involved a police helicopter.

PC Fegan anticipated the escape route the teen would take and can be seen in the video leaving his car on foot to lay in wait, crouching behind a bush. His gamble pays off and as the thief rides through the area on a footpath to try to escape, PC Fegan jumps out and pushes him off the stolen scoot before placing him under arrest.

On Wednesday, September 30, the teen appeared at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court where he admitted the theft of a motor vehicle, dangerous driving, driving without a licence and without insurance.

The 17-year-old was handed a 12-month driving ban but also locked up for 18 months at a youth detention centre.

“This reckless teen endangered the lives of countless road users and pedestrians aboard a stolen motorcycle that he treated like a toy,” said PC Fegan.

“It was vitally important that he was stopped before he seriously injured himself or others and so, after anticipating his route, I raced to find a suitable hiding place and waited to pounce.

“I hope this serves as a reminder to those who take what is not theirs to take and for those who believe they are above the law – that us officers will do everything in our power to keep the people of Northumbria safe.”

The investigation was conducted by Operation Benelli – a specialist task-force dedicated to targeting motorcycle crime across the region and putting offenders before the courts.

Nine years for killer on stolen scooter

First published on 8 October, 2020 by Ben Clarke

A man who rode a stolen scooter recklessly through Coventry before fatally punching a witness who challenged him has been jailed for nine years.

James Rowley, 21, was seen speeding through residential streets, jumping red lights and mounting pavements on Tuesday, March 17. He then began tearing up grassland, which is when he was approached by care manager Thady ‘Joe’ Higgins.

Mr Higgins urged Rowley to stop as there were children walking nearby but Rowley responded by revving the bike’s engine – the spinning wheels showering Mr Higgins and a friend with dirt – before flooring his victim with a single punch. Mr Higgins died from his injuries in hospital the following day.

Rowley initially claimed that he had acted in self defence, telling police in interview that he was the “softest, nicest guy you ever come across” but West Midlands Police gathered video evidence from CCTV and social media that contradicted his story.

This included footage now made public of the moment he got into an argument with the driver of a car after nearly causing an accident at traffic lights. Rowley later changed his account and admitted manslaughter and dangerous driving. He was jailed at Leamington Justice Centre.

“Joe grew up in the area and didn’t like people disrespecting his community,” said Detective Inspector Jim Colclough who also described Mr Higgins’ death as tragic and senseless.

“Witnesses describe him approaching Rowley politely; he wanted to convey his concerns for the danger he posed to people. Some witnesses described seeing Rowley laughing and dancing [while wearing] the victim’s hat after the fatal punch. Rowley’s violence was witnessed by several children in the street.

“He lay low for two days before handing himself in. The judge said he spent the time ‘planning the lies he was to tell the police in interview’.”

MCN poll

‘I wouldn’t let them take it’ – Dealership owner chases scooter scum to retrieve bike

First published on 30 September, 2020 by Chris Dabbs

Paul Reek charges the suspected thieves and they run away

When a passing cyclist came into Gambier Reeks dealership on Putney Bridge Road in Fulham in September, to tell them that one of their customers’ bike was being stolen, Paul Reeks had only one thought: “They are not getting that bike.”

The bike was an almost new Yamaha TMax 500 worth £11,000 that Reeks, 55, was preparing for an ex-pat customer in Austria.

“It wasn’t about the money, the guy is living with cancer, and he was really looking forward to getting out on two wheels again on his own bike. In fact it was due to be picked up at any time, which is why it was parked right outside the shop and didn’t even have a steering lock on it. It meant it was easy for them to ‘pipe push’ it up the road.”

The cyclist said they’d gone two roads down and turned left. There was no sign of them, but Paul’s local knowledge meant he had a good idea of the route they’d use, so he returned to the shop and set off on a Yamaha YBR125 that was in for a service.

“Now I was on the hunt, and I had seen stuff going off about half a mile away under a railway bridge, so I followed that route.”

The thieves were using another TMax and sure enough, both bikes were on the pavement in the shadow of the bridge, while the pillion rider used a claw hammer to smash some panels off and hot-wire the bike.

“I tried to ram him on the 125, but he jumped out of the way and I circled round into the road to have another go, which is when he came at me with the hammer,” says Paul. “I was lucky I was on the YBR with its great steering lock. If I’d been on a bigger bike that geezer would have hit me.”

By now the following cyclist had caught Paul up and the commotion meant that several other people were gathering. “Four or five builders had heard all the commotion and they and the cyclist started to move in towards them too, so the scum decided to do a runner.”

The damage was limited to £250 for the panels, and the bike has gone to its rightful owner.

Operation Venice ‘Scorpion Squad’ chase down suspects

First published on 24 September, 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

Officers out and about on modded BMW F750GSs

Class A drugs and a meat cleaver are the latest seizures by motorcycle-mounted police officers from Operation Venice, the Metropolitan police squad set up to fight moped and two-wheel related crime in London.

First pressed into service last year the ‘Scorpion Squad’, the name for Venice’s motorcycle-riding officers, have had big success in recent weeks, having found drugs in a stop and search of a fleeing moped rider, then in a separate incident, a knife and meat cleaver.

In the first, officers in Bethnal Green aboard specially-equipped BMW F750GSs pursued a silver Honda moped after it made off through a red light. According to the police, the moped rider rode at excess speed on the pavement and the wrong way down one-way streets, as well as through further red lights.

Knives and meat cleavers were recovered

After trying to escape on foot in a park the rider was detained. He claimed he did not know the officers were police. Checks revealed the moped had false registration plates and was uninsured.

The rider was arrested for these offences as well as dangerous driving, failing to stop for police and aggravated taking and driving away of the moped. He was also riding without a licence.

When a police dog was called to the scene a white plastic tub was found containing 26 wraps of white powder. The man was then further arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs.

That same day officers were called to reports of an attack at Mile End Park involving a large knife and a meat cleaver. Scorpion riders conducted a search nearby and a group of six teenagers who matched the description of the suspects were detained and searched.

One of the suspects was found to have a large meat cleaver in his waistband and a large kitchen knife was found in a drawstring bag. A 26-year-old male was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon.

Sergeant Tony McGovern from Operation Venice, said: “Our units are deployed across London every day to disrupt drug supply and remove weapons from unsafe hands by stopping criminals from using motorbikes, mopeds and scooters to commit crime.”

Land of the free, home of the safe: Stats show US riders lose a bike to thieves only once every 50 years

First published on 17 September, 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

A motorcycle being stolen

Despite recent advances in the war against bike theft, the UK is still massively lagging behind other countries including our pals over the other side of the pond.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) in America have just published their latest statistics on how many motorcycles were stolen in 2019, coming in at just over 40,000 bikes. That’s down from 46,000 a little more than four years ago. Good for them, you might think.

The UK has also had successes in reducing bike crime – based on whose stats you use (because our way of reporting motorcycle theft is notoriously patchy) our overall bike theft peaked in recent years at just over 38,000 and it’s now believed to be down to around 28,000.

That seems alright until you take a closer look at the numbers. There are in the region of 1.2 million motorcycles on the road in the UK (that are taxed and insured), compared to around 8.8 million in the US.

That means in the US, there’s a 0.45% chance your bike will be stolen in a given year. Whereas in the UK, there’s a 2.3% chance – nearly five times as bad. Things get worse once you factor in what happens after the theft, too.

Again, the stats vary depending on type of bike, location (and who you ask!) but recovery rates in the UK hover around 20%, so of the 28,000 bikes stolen per year just 5600 will be recovered.

Fitting a tracker massively increases the likelihood of recovery and the stats don’t tell us how many of the recovered bikes were fitted with the devices, but if you take that into account the chance of getting a stolen bike back without a tracker is slim.

Compare that to the US though and it’s a different picture, where over half of all stolen bikes are returned. So that 0.45% chance of losing your bike each year is closer to 0.23% when you factor in recoveries. That means cumulatively, Amercian riders would need to ride for nearly 50 years before losing a bike to a thief, compared to 20 years here in the UK.

Humberside Police crack-down on thefts and dangerous riding

First published on 10 September, 2020 by Ben Clarke

 Officers have been getting on top of the theft menace

Humberside Police’s bike crime taskforce, Operation Yellowfin, have already taken dozens of unsafe bikes off the roads by seizing them and destroying them – and now they’re teaming up with local councils and a housing association to keep the momentum going.

Officers have also been engaging with the biking community by stopping law-abiding riders for a chat about security and what they can do to keep their motorbike out of the hands of criminals.

“I will not tolerate the lives of residents being disrupted by nuisance bikes on our roads, parks and residential areas,” said Neighbourhood Policing Chief Inspector Paul French. “I know that this is an ongoing issue and one which I would like to reassure our residents we are making a priority to tackle.

 Many machines are in bad state

“We are increasing patrols in known crime hot-spots but realise that others experience problems too and we always want to be called about these issues so we can deal with them before they become bigger and more serious.

“We know we’ve still got a lot of work to do, but what I will say is that our work to tackle motorbike crime and the crimes related to it won’t stop. Making our communities safer for everyone.”

The team’s social media profiles are documenting the work they do, including examples of the dangerous bikes they are encountering. One moped rider was stopped for having no insurance and officers discovered it had no fuel cap, a loose rear wheel and faulty brakes.

To support their mission, the force are appealing for information about where stolen or nuisance bikes are being stored. Local residents are urged to call the non-emergency 101 number and quote Operation Yellowfin with any information they have.

North East Lincolnshire Councillor Ron Shepherd, responsible for safer and stronger communities, added: “I’m wholeheartedly in support of Operation Yellowfin. The theft and antisocial use of motorcycles can terrorise neighbourhoods, cause thousands of pounds worth of damage to people’s property and put lives in danger.

“Council officers work closely with Humberside Police and where possible we will use our extensive powers to punish criminals without pursuing costly criminal proceedings.”

Biker Biker going global: volunteer bike recovery group get set to expand operations

First published on 3 September, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Biker Biker are going global

New branches of the London-based stolen motorcycle recovery team, Biker Biker, are opening across the UK including Kent, Southampton, Sheffield and Scotland. The newest addition to the fold is Leeds, but now they’re setting their sights further afield to America, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and India.

“After we spoke to MCN last year we had a real surge of exposure,” said Shane, the founder of Biker Biker. “I ended up going on LBC radio to talk about bike theft and the work we do. After that I was invited to a virtual event with guys from all over the world and they were saying, ‘Hey we need this in Canada and America’ and I just thought, ‘Yeah, why not?’.

“We’ve found a guy to work with on the East Coast of America and we’re working on the others now, too. It’s just a case of finding people you trust not to try to behave like vigilantes and give us a bad name.”

Staying on the right side of the law has been at the core Biker Biker since the start. Shane is clear to point out that the group are not interested in going after thieves, they just want to give the victims of crime their bikes back.

The van Biker Biker use for recoveries

“We’ve managed to get a van on the road now, which is amazing,” he adds. “It cost less than a grand and it was a bit rotten here and there but we’ve fixed it up and got a ramp thanks to the generosity of the biking community.”

The van means that the London group no longer have to wait for a third-party recovery truck, they can just scoop up stolen machines as soon as they have confirmed that the bike has been nicked.

You can now become a subscriber to Biker Biker on Facebook and donate £3.49 per month. This money will go towards Shane’s next project. “I want to keep a stock of locks, chains, alarmed disc locks, lever locks and covers to lend people when we give their bikes back.

“These people have often had their security destroyed when the bike was nicked and this will stop the thieves having an easy job of taking the bike back again.”

Hunt for owners

Biker Biker have two bikes they can’t give back because they don’t know whose they are. A Honda VFR800 they have has been resprayed and is in a bit of a sorry state, but the insurance never paid out so it still belongs to the owner.

They also have a Suzuki V-Strom in a similar situation. If the bikes are unwanted, Shane would like to use them for promotion or donate them to a local college but he can’t do anything until he tracks down the owners. If you have any idea who the owners are then get in touch with them on Facebook so they can be given back.

Recovered Suzuki V-Strom

Watch: Operation Venice arrest dangerous moped rider after tactical contact

First published on 27 August, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Met Police use tactical contact

Operation Venice, the Met’s motorcycle crime task force, have released a video of the moment they used ‘tactical contact’ to stop a suspect who later pleaded guilty to dangerous driving at Croydon Magistrates’ Court.

23-year-old Kyren Bryce of Hilsea Street, Hackney, cut through a park to avoid police during a pursuit in April. In the short video clip taken from the dashcam of a police car, Bryce can be seen leaving a side road, narrowly missing a marked police car.

With a police motorbike following, he then tries to ride around the camera car but it cuts across his path using the contact to bring the chase to an end. The police motorcyclist then approaches Bryce on the ground to ensure he cannot pick up the moped and carry on. At this point he can be seen putting his hands up in surrender.

“The riding displayed showed a complete disregard for other members of the public’s safety and also fell far below the expected standards of a safe and competent driver,” said Sergeant Tony McGovern, one of the Op Venice officers in the pursuit. “Bryce not only put his own life at risk, but also the lives of innocent members of the public for no reason.”

Officers were patrolling the area in central London following reports of a number of scooter-enabled robberies over a 24-hour period involving a suspect on a grey machine. They saw Bryce riding a vehicle that matched this description along Kings Road, SW3 but as they turned around to stop him, he made off.

Kyren Bryce

Bryce hit speeds topping 70mph in residential areas as he tried to get away. He also ran red lights, overtook on solid white lines and cut across pavements and the park (which was being used by members of the public).

Op Venice officers in a marked police car were authorised to use a slow-speed tactical contact to bring the chase to an end and they took their opportunity on Brixton Road. Bryce was taken into custody and charged the following day before pleading guilty on Tuesday, 18 August. He will be sentenced at a date yet to be confirmed.

Dishing the dirt: off-road police squad in South Yorkshire leave nowhere for criminals to hide

First published on 18 August, 2020 by Ben Clarke

South Yorkshire Police off and on road officers

South Yorkshire Police’s Off Road Team have been making great use of a recent increase in group numbers and are already seeing results.

Having been joined by seven officers from various districts back in May, the unit has seen a dramatic reduction in emergency calls about nuisance off-roaders.

“In April, our force’s control room received 1190 calls for reports of nuisance off-road bikes,” said Sergeant Matt Duffy. “This was reduced in June to 166 following amazing work carried out by officers. The reduced level of calls is testament to our communities feeling reassured that we are taking positive, pro-active action.

“Officers worked extremely hard, in hot weather for long hours to achieve these results. During May and June, they made 11 arrests, one in connection with a family being deliberately driven at by a man on a quad and those involved in large-scale crop damage on farmland.”

South Yorkshire Police off road team

The team have also recovered 49 illegal or stolen bikes in that time with a combined value of £90,000 as well as reporting 12 people on summons and issuing 102 warnings. If riders are caught again following their warning, their bikes will be seized.

But the hard work doesn’t end there as two team members, PC Palmer and PC Bellwood, have now become drone pilots, unlocking another powerful weapon against this kind of crime which is already yielding results.

On Sunday, August 7 they responded to complaints from residents near Mill Hill Road and a piece of land near to J5 on the M18. The team disrupted a group of 15 people riding illegally and seized a Beta RR and KTM EXC450 that had their VIN numbers removed.

They then went in search of a Suzuki DR250 the drone had seen earlier, which was located and also recovered on suspicion of being stolen as the VIN and engine numbers had also very recently been tampered with.

Can you help?

As part of their ongoing efforts, South Yorkshire Police have released images of a number of riders they wish to talk to regarding incidents involving off road bikes, quads and other vehicles in the area. You can view the gallery on the force’s Flickr page here.

There are currently 26 images of people being sought for reasons including criminal damage, motorbike theft, failure to stop and antisocial riding along with details of how you can get in touch if you can help. Let’s get ’em!

No escape from the dreaded crusher: seized bikes destroyed and displayed in local town centre

First published on 12 August, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Bike crushing in Corby, Northamptonshire

Police have gone through with their threat to crush seized motorbikes and display the results in Corby town centre. MCN spoke to Superintendent Kev Mulligan earlier this year about the plan to take repeat offending, unroadworthy or stolen bikes with no obvious owners off the road for good.

Now, a video on the Northamptonshire Police Twitter account shows the vehicles being loaded into a crusher before a cuboid of mangled metal is lifted onto a truck destined for an awareness event.

“What we’re doing here today is crushing a number of bikes that have been seized by our officers as part of a campaign to get rid of some of these nuisance vehicles that are travelling across the county and are a clear danger to the public and other road users,” said Chief Constable Nick Adderley.

“My message is clear, if you want to use an off-road motorcycle, get the land owner’s permission, do it in a safe way, do not go on the public highway and if you do, expect to be caught. Over the last two years we’ve had over 1800 incidents reported to us where off-road motorcycles, or the illegal use of motorcycles has blighted communities.”

The bikes were only crushed if they were deemed unroadworthy, were stolen and had no obvious legitimate owner, or they had a rightful owner but the owner had been issued with previous antisocial behaviour notices as a result of using the machine with the threat of it being destroyed.

Cuboid of crushed seized motorcycles

Superintendent Mulligan added: “Nuisance motorcycling might seem like harmless fun to the riders but their behaviour causes real misery and anxiety to residents and we won’t stand for it. People shouldn’t have to live with this kind of behaviour happening in their local area.

“We hope that last week’s display sends a clear message to our communities that we are listening to their concerns and acting on them and that this kind of behaviour won’t be tolerated.

“To those that might be tempted to ride in this way: We will catch you, seize and crush your bike, which will then leave you out of pocket. Please resist the urge to ride illegally and you will save money and save getting a police record.”

DNA spray gives law a longer arm: Notts Police get new tool to tackle anti-social off-roading

First published on August 5, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Sergeant Colin Morley

A Nottinghamshire police force has become the latest to employ DNA spray technology in the fight against illegal off-road riding. Forces in the West Midlands and the North East have already used the technique, which involves tagging offenders with an invisible DNA solution, producing positive results.

Police in the Ashfield district of Nottinghamshire were concerned by an increase in crime and antisocial behaviour caused by people driving off-road vehicles across local farmland and local beauty spots.

“Stopping and apprehending people on off-road motorcycles is very difficult so we’ll be using this new tool to rebalance things in our favour,” said Sergeant Colin Morley. “Very often we have a really good idea who offenders are, but we struggle to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was them at a particular time and location. This spray is an absolute game-changer for us as it will now allow us to prove that beyond doubt.

“A good example of how we may use this involves people riding on the road on bikes with no number plates. It’s almost certain that these bikes are also not taxed and are uninsured, but the only way for us to apprehend the rider at the moment is to catch them in the act, which can be difficult when they are riding a high-powered motorcycle capable of escaping off-road.

“With this new tool we can simply spray them from the patrol car – safe in the knowledge that we’ll at least be able to catch up with them later on.”

Illegal off-roading in Nottinghamshire

Residents in the Nottinghamshire town of Ashfield have made it clear that the illegal use of off-road motorbikes is a real concern and is putting the lives of those who wish to use outdoor spaces legitimately at risk. The police have listened and are determined to tackle the issue.

Inspector Mark Dickson, who is responsible for neighbourhood policing in the Ashfield district, added: “It is totally unacceptable behaviour and I am delighted that we now have an additional tool at our disposal to catch those responsible. And people can be assured that we will seize bikes, we will fine people and will do our very best to ensure that they are prosecuted for all the offences they have committed.”

New commuters urged to lock up: Met uses tactical contact vid to warn new scooter owners

First published on July 30 by Ben Clarke

Police use tactical contact

The Met Police have released a new video montage of suspected bike criminals being knocked off stolen vehicles by officers using tactical contact. The video is intended to raise awareness of bike theft among the growing number of new moped and scooter owners who have ditched public transport in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Moped and scooter registrations were up over 40% for the month of June this year and the Met want to make sure that these new riders take the security of their new vehicle seriously by showing the situations that stolen mopeds and scooters can end up in.

“Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Venice have been busy during lockdown tackling criminals using scooters and ‘PTWs’ (powered two wheelers) to commit a number of offences,” said PC Clem Jones.

“In some ways, lockdown has been hard for criminals; instead of them being able to mix with the crowd, officers have been able to spot them more easily, making their lives harder.”

PC Jones gave this advice for new scooter riders: “Ensure you check parking before you leave, especially if you are driving into central London or busy town centres. Try to look for a bay with a ground anchor, if you can. Always park in a well-lit place.

“Remember to layer up your security. Following our Lock, Chain, Cover advice can help to protect your scooter or PTW from thieves, making their lives harder and helping us to keep scooter theft down.”

Lock, Chain, Cover is the Met’s campaign aimed at improving two-wheeled theft and security awareness. A bike or scooter is stolen in London every hour.

“Officers from Operation Venice have worked hard to reduce theft over the last year, but we need the help of vehicle owners to drive this down further,” said Chief Inspector Jim Corbett.

“Using additional security reduces the chances of your bike being stolen, which is reduced even further if multiple measures are used. We’re asking owners to assist us by layering security – lock, chain and cover your bike.”

London lags behind: New bike theft figures show capital is twice as bad as other hotspots

First published on 24 July by Ben Clarke

London ranks worst for bike theft

The number of bikes being stolen dropped slightly across England, Wales and Northern Ireland during 2019 according to the latest annual report complied by the Motorcycle Action Group.

The report says that data taken from the Police National Computer shows that an average of 19 bikes were stolen per 1000 registrations in 2019, compared to 22 per 1000 the year before.

MAG also made Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to each force area in the UK and the best performing areas were found to be North Yorkshire, Dyfed-Powys and West Mercia each with a score of three bikes stolen per 1000 registrations.

London still ranks as the worst area with a score of 87 per 1000. That equates to one in every 12 bikes on the road in the capital and is almost twice the theft rate of the next worst performer (West Yorkshire).

Meanwhile, MAG have questioned the accuracy of the data given by the Met in the FOI requests. MAG analysed the force’s 2018 vehicle theft reports and found that the number of stolen bikes was actually 15% higher than the number returned in the FOI response.

“The accuracy of entries for make and model is poor,” said the report’s author Colin Brown. “Just one example was a Yamaha YS125 being recorded with Ford as the manufacturer.

“Obviously Ford don’t make motorcycles. Interrogating the theft entries for motorcycle thefts, all Fords would be filtered out from a search. Errors like this thus lead to an under-reporting of motorcycle thefts.”

The Met Police were unable to provide a comment to MCN.

This year, MAG received responses from all but six forces. Those who didn’t supply data were Greater Manchester Police, Hampshire Police, Police Scotland, South Wales Police, Thames Valley Police and Wiltshire Police.

Brown added that pressure on secure parking facilities for bikes and scooters in Britain’s towns and cities was risking a crime epidemic as people start to return to the commute post-Covid.

He said: “We can implore owners to lock their bikes, but without the secure parking facilities, owners will face far greater issues with securing their motorcycles than before.”

New crackdown in garden of England: Kent cops recover stolen bike and target antisocial riding

First published on July 15, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Kent police seize a motorcycle

Police in Dover tasked with reducing antisocial motorcycling have seized four bikes so far including one that is suspected to have been stolen last year. The Dover Community Safety Unit (CSU) proactively targets and disrupts those who ride antisocially and has so far issued 24 Section 59 warnings since April. If those riders are stopped again for being a nuisance within a 12-month period, their vehicle can be seized and impounded.

The area is just one of many up and down the country working proactively to stamp out illegal and antisocial riding on roads, pavements and public spaces. The ongoing Kent project is called Operation Fielding and includes days of action ‘targeting those who commit crime and disorder’.

“We understand the concerns reported to us regarding nuisance motorbikes in the area and it is not tolerated,” said Kent Police Inspector Fred McCormack of Dover Police. “CSU officers led by PC Maria Redgwell have been working hard to respond to reports made to us and they will continue to carry out patrols across the district with the aim of disrupting those responsible for this anti-social behaviour.

“We are grateful to members of the public who have reported these incidents and encourage them to continue reporting to help inform the action we are taking.”

The latest seizure was made after a rider was approached by a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) in Aylesham, Kent and is suspected to have been stolen in Deal late last year.

Motorbike seized by Kent Police

Cllr MJ Holloway, Dover District Council’s cabinet member for community safety, added: “This is part of a wider operation dealing with motorbike nuisance across the district, in particular noise over weekends and during the evenings.

“DDC will be working with Kent Police over the coming summer months to clamp down on anti-social behaviour involving motorbikes, which causes a real nuisance for local communities.”

The force has also produced a poster telling the public how to report nuisance motorcycling including a list of behaviours to look out for. This includes; speeding/racing, illegal manoeuvres, dangerous driving, loud revving and careless driving. It advises that a description of the bike and rider should be taken along with the road and direction of travel but also asks people to ‘respect those who ride sensibly’.

What is a Section 59 warning?

Section 59 refers to the Police Reform Act 2002 and applies to “vehicles used in manner causing alarm, distress or annoyance”. A constable in uniform has the power to stop a rider if they are driving in a careless or inconsiderate manner, or off roading where it is illegal to do so. A warning is normally given the first time a person is stopped but if they are stopped again, the vehicle can be seized and impounded (even if it is a different vehicle this time). The rider can also be fined up to £1000.

Crushing defeat: Tough new approach will see destroyed bikes displayed in town centre

First published on July 8, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Superintendent Kev Mulligan from Northants Police

Police in Corby, Northamptonshire, are taking the bold step of crushing confiscated bikes and using the resultant cube of metal as a warning to those who continue to ride illegally.

The area has seen a spike in the dangerous use of pit bikes, mopeds and motocross machines in public spaces during coronavirus lockdown and it is hoped this new tactic will help to curb the practice.

“It’s important to make it clear that the bikes we’re crushing aren’t the motorcycles of law-abiding riders,” said Superintendent Kev Mulligan from Northants Police. “These are not bikers, there’s a difference. These are people, primarily youngsters but not exclusively, who are riding on unroadworthy bikes 99% of the time that are either stolen or so dangerous that it beggars belief.

“Our obligation when policing this issue is first and foremost centred around community safety, to the safety of those legitimately using woodland trails, community open spaces and parks.

“Secondly, it’s about the local residents and businesses who are pestered and having to suffer from the practice taking place on their doorstep.

“But it’s also about the safety of the riders of these machines because in a lot of cases there’s no real awareness of the consequences if they have an off.”

Seized motorcycle headed for the crusher

The bikes are only crushed if they are deemed unroadworthy, are stolen and have no obvious legitimate owner, or they have a rightful owner but they’ve been issued with previous antisocial behaviour notices as a result of using the machine with the threat of it being destroyed.

The crushing itself was originally planned as a public event, but due to restrictions on mass gatherings the decision was taken to film it and then display the cube of mangled machinery outside The Corby Cube municipal building in the town.

Superintendent Mulligan added: “Some are seeing the lockdown as a perfect storm for this activity, but we’re seeing it as an opportunity to get positive. While it’s absolutely right that we take a strong hand in this sort of crime, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the opportunity to engage with individuals so that they potentially become responsible bikers or drivers when they’re able to, either through age or by gaining a licence.”

Is antisocial riding on the rise?

“This is an annual issue with peaks and troughs,” explained Superintendent Kev Mulligan. “We usually see spikes in the summer while the schools are on holiday and around Christmas because people receive these sorts of bikes as presents so it has a seasonality, and police across the UK never lose sight of it.

“The coronavirus pandemic meant an extended period of time when the people who engage in this activity were given free rein in empty public spaces and at the same time there have been lots of residents at home seven days a week to see it happening, film it and report it.”

Bike criminals busted by police crackdown

First published on 2 July 2020 by Ben Clarke

Motorcycles seized in Northumberland

A police taskforce targeting bike thieves and antisocial riders has reported huge success. The unit was set up to combat a spike in bike theft as lockdown measures eased.

Officers were also determined to clamp down on activity where a bike or moped was used to commit a crime after a surge in reports of teenage thieves targeting bikes left on driveways and in car parks across Northumbria. There were also reports that armed offenders were resorting to violence to take bikes by force.

Summonses have now been issued to offenders and 14 bikes have been seized, two of which are suspected to have been stolen.

“The officers who have been working hard on this for the past six weeks have been phenomenal,” said Neighbourhood Inspector Phil Baker.

“They have listened to the concerns of residents, identified where disorderly motorcycle riding has been taking place and then they have targeted those areas accordingly.

 “It is community policing at its best and has yielded some fantastic results. A number of individuals riding the motorcycles have been summonsed to court and residents across South Shields are satisfied with our activity.”

Motorcycle seized by police

The special project is part of Operation Benelli, a team of experienced and specialist officers who review every incident where a bike has been used as part of a crime and try to spot patterns of behaviour.

Victims are also spoken to in a bid to build up an intelligence picture of those involved in the crimes. Antisocial riding is a blight on communities and can make the lives of those who have to put up with it a misery as well as being a real danger to people looking to use open spaces, parks and pavements legitimately.

Stolen bikes often go on to be used in further crimes and tracking down antisocial riders has led officers to discover drugs, weapons, money and other stolen property.

Sergeant Fran Joyce, who oversees Operation Benelli, added: “We continue to monitor those patterns of behaviour. A lot of this is teenagers riding at speed on their bikes and causing a nuisance but often these same individuals are involved in serious criminality.

“We won’t tolerate theft or violence in our communities and if we suspect individuals are involved in criminality we seize their motorcycles and they could end up before the courts.”

Cops seize vans too

Police in Manchester have been targeting anti-social riders and have started to seize vans used to transport the machines causing the nuisance.

Officers have the power to seize vehicles being used in an anti-social manner if they are causing, or likely to cause alarm, distress or annoyance or contravene section 34 (prohibition of off-road driving/driving other than a road) of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Greater Manchester Police seized a branded work van at Bickershaw country park along with several bikes. Imagine explaining that to your boss!

Operation Venice: A day in the life of a Met bike crime cop

First published on June 25 by Jordan Gibbons

Operation Venice officers stop a suspect

Met Police have given details on what a typical shift’s work is like for Operation Venice – the specialist unit set up in 2017 to combat motorcycle theft and moped-related crime. Since then, there has been a drop of 70% in some parts of London, but sadly their work is far from over.

Details are now emerging of what took place over the May Bank Holiday, with many people stopped despite the country already being in lockdown. The evening shift got going at 7pm and only half an hour later officers arrested a man in Camden for riding a motorcycle dangerously.

The 28-year-old from Lambeth was later charged with dangerous driving, riding without insurance, failing to stop for police and driving a vehicle otherwise than in accordance with a licence.

Just over an hour later, officers in a marked car in N17 saw a scooter travelling in the opposite direction that they then stopped, with a view to establishing the rider’s identity. The rider initially provided false details but Op Venice officers are prepared for this and carry mobile fingerprint scanners.

The rider’s details were checked and they did not match those of the scooter owner; the owner was then contacted who informed the police he had not given the rider permission to ride the bike. Upon searching under the seat, officers found a quantity of drugs, while more were found on the rider.

Operation Venice officers find items inside scooter

The rider was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs, possession with intent to supply Class B drugs, theft of a motor vehicle, driving without insurance and driving a vehicle otherwise than in accordance with a licence.

Three hours later, officers stopped another man in W2, arresting him on suspicion of drink driving and of driving without insurance.

Speaking about the evening, Sergeant Tony McGovern, from the Met’s Operation Venice’s Scorpion Unit, said: “My officers were out in force over the Bank Holiday primarily targeting moped-enabled crime.

“However, we are also on hand to disrupt those who are using the roads to commit criminality, drive at extreme speeds and who drink and drive. In doing so, these people’s actions increase the risk to their own safety and that of other road users.”

Plain-clothed officers to be armed with anti-theft spray

First published on June 22 by Ben Clarke

DNA spray will be used as part of Operation Swift in Northumberland

Officers working as part of Operation Swift in Northumberland have been given a boost in their battle against theft and anti-social riding in the district.

Plain clothed officers now have DNA spray canisters to tag offenders and the bike they are riding with a uniquely coded UV solution.

This can later be used as evidence to prove the suspect was involved in a specific crime and tie them to any vehicle used. The technique has already been used successfully in neighbouring South Shields, Gateshead and Newcastle. Investigations have revealed that many of the bikes being used illegally on the streets, pavements and parks of Northumberland are stolen.

“We know this type criminality can be of huge concern and I want to reassure the public that we do take it seriously,” said Neighbourhood Inspector Neil Hall, one of the officers overseeing the operation.

“We have spoken to members of the community on this particular issue and are committed to working with partners to ensure anybody who does flout the law and brings misery to our residents is appropriately dealt with.

“There may be some who think these are just bored teenagers who have nowhere suitable to ride their motorcycles, but that is not always the case. Many of the individuals have been involved in serious offences and a lot of the machines are actually stolen.

“That’s why we are committed to taking a proactive approach in tackling this with plain-clothed and uniformed officers regularly on patrol in identified hotspot areas. The spray is a fantastic piece of kit which has already proved to be effective elsewhere.”

Last year, Northumbria Police launched Operation Benelli, a specialist task-force who review every crime where a motorcycle has been used to commit an offence or where a motorcycle has been stolen. It has had a number of successes with hundreds of stolen bikes seized, dozens arrested and a number of convictions.

They will be working alongside neighbourhood teams across the Force to tackle this type of crime and target patrols where they find patterns of criminality. Officers are keen to keep the momentum going and stamp out the problem all together.

Insp Hall added: “DNA spray is just one of our methods. We will also be looking at preventive measures including engaging with those involved to educate them.”

Zero tolerance policy sees Hull police recover stolen machines

First published 15 June 2020 by Ben Clarke

Stolen motorcycles have been recovered by Hull police

Police in Hull discovered a treasure trove of stolen motorbikes after forcing entry to a property in the Holderness area of the city.

Included in the haul, which was part of an investigation into reports of stolen bikes being stored, were two bikes taken in 2017.

The discovery of a total of five pilfered machines comes against a backdrop of zero tolerance in Humberside as Chief Constable, Lee Freeman, vowed to create a hostile environment for criminals during lockdown.

Police in Hull have adopted a zero tolerance policy

“People have been staying at home and they have lost the opportunity to commit offences because of that,” he said. “We have a responsibility to respond and tackle criminals who will be looking for opportunities to commit crime.”

Although the force’s five-week period of action, called Operation Galaxy, is intended to concentrate on the broader issues of theft, burglary, sexual offences and organised crime, at least one further motorbike has already been seized as a result.

Antisocial motorbike offences such as illegal off-road riding are also in the crosshairs as local residents complained of the ‘daily problem’ of people riding dangerously in public parks and on the roads and pavements.

“I want to take this opportunity to appeal again to the few young people who take their vehicles off road or ride in an anti-social way, please consider your actions,” said Chief Superintendent Darren Downs of Humberside Police. “Riding this way causes frequent issues to local residents and can cause serious injury to you or others.

“We have been working hard recently to tackle the issues of illegal off-road bikes, of motorbike theft and related crimes and the anti-social use of motorcycles. Over 20 motorbikes have recently been seized as we continue Operation Yellowfin to specifically target these problems.

“If you know of where stolen bikes, scooters, mopeds are being stored, either in lockups and garages please let us know.

“The information you provide could help prevent crime and could prevent someone being seriously injured.”

Since that warning was issued a nine-year-old boy was seriously injured after being hit by an off-road motorbike in a local park. A man was later arrested.

Northamptonshire Police take delivery of two Ducatis

Northamptonshire Police have taken delivery of two unusual police bikes in the form of a Ducati Panigale V2 and a Supersport S.

The bikes, which are to be used solely for public engagement purposes, were delivered to the force’s headquarters at the end of May with special Police and BikeSafe liveries.

Superintendent Kev Mulligan said: “We are very grateful to have Ducati UK as one of our partners. When we go to BikeSafe events, riders are much more likely to talk to us when we ride bikes that interest them!”

Prison for 100mph bike chase criminal

First published 5 June 2020 by Ben Clarke

Corey Briscoe-McLeary led police on a 45-minute chase

A man who led police on a 45-minute chase through London on a motorbike has been jailed for eight months and disqualified from driving for 18 months.

Corey Briscoe-McLeary, 38, of Janson Close, NW10, was finally brought to a halt when a stinger was deployed by officers from Operation Venice, but not before he had clocked speeds of up to 100mph in 30mph zones and mounted pavements.

Briscoe-Mcleary was brought to the attention of Op Venice officers by the National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter operator after the crew saw him riding at speed and acting suspiciously. He entered Brent Cross shopping centre car park briefly before heading north on the M1 into Hertfordshire.

“I have been a police officer for 15 years and the manner of riding displayed in this incident was one of the worst examples I have ever seen,” said Sergeant Tony McGovern, the officer in charge of the Operation Venice Scorpion Unit who deployed the stinger.

“It was highly dangerous and this individual put his own life, and the life of other members of the public, in serious danger – this was without police units in direct pursuit.

“The main focus of everyone involved in this incident was bringing it to a safe conclusion. We could not let the high powered motorcycle to continue being ridden in the manner it was – to allow it to continue would have posed even further serious risk to the public. It was clear Briscoe-McLeary was willing to take high risks to evade capture, and I am pleased that the actions taken prevented serious injury or worse coming to members of the public and the rider himself.

“The reckless actions of Briscoe-McLeary during this incident show his clear lack of consideration or care for the judicial system, the public or the police. With colleagues across the Met, Operation Venice will continue to identify and pursue those intent on committing violent and audacious crimes on the streets of London.”

Briscoe-McLeary was also sentenced for offences he was wanted for prior to the dangerous driving incident including battery, possession of a class A drug (cocaine), possession of a class B drug (cannabis) and breach of a conditional discharge. The sentences will run concurrently, making his total imprisonment eight months.

 Officers deployed a stinger to bring the chase to an end

Thugs locked up

Two men who stole a Rolex worth £30,000 from a woman in Chelsea and threatened her with an axe before making their getaway on a moped have received jail sentences.

Connor Murphy, 26 of Salters Road, W10, was jailed for six years and nine months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and Richard Walsh, 29 of Ashburnham Road, Chelsea, SW10, was sentenced to four years and nine months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to encouraging/assisting a robbery.

Detective Sergeant Chris Taylor, said: “This was a terrifying robbery.”

Video interview: new BMW F750GS-P is a lean, mean thief-busting machine

First published 9 March 2020 by Ben Clarke

As MCN reported at the end of January, London’s Metropolitan Police have taken delivery of a new fleet of BMW F750GS-P bikes to help in the fight against bike and scooter crime in the capital.

To make sure the bikes were well-suited for the job, BMW consulted PC Clem Jones, a ‘scorpion’ officer from Operation Venice, who told MCN how it’s been adapted.

“The BMW isn’t a conventional police bike in the sense of having a wide presence,” he said. “It’s very streamlined and the back has been slimmed-down to enable us to go the same places the mopeds go – that’s the core aspect behind it.”

To achieve this, traditional panniers and blue light ‘wand’ have been ditched in favour of a clean tail unit and centrally-mounted LED light.

Jones emphasised that creating a new police bike isn’t as simple as buying a new model and putting stickers and lights on it, saying: “To an every day member of the public, they probably think that but the level of testing and development that goes into these bikes is phenomenal.

“Every police-spec component that’s added has to be tested so that it doesn’t interfere with another aspect of the bike including the electronics and ECU. When these go out operationally, they need to be reliable and they need to function.”

Jones said that an early iteration of the new LED lighting was found to interfere with the bike’s communications so was redesigned.

Along with the new tail, the bikes also get lights and sirens at to the front, a communications system, a BMW factory satnav and additional crash bars.

BMW F750GS-P comms system

The F750GS-P is a direct result of the working relationship the Met have with BMW and the bikes are already attracting attention from other forces in the UK who are trying to tackle moped and scooter crime.

Scott Grimsdall of BMW UK said only a brand with a global presence in emergency vehicles could provide this kind of collaboration and result.

“We’re very pleased to assist the Metropolitan Police with their efforts to tackle moped crime. The F750GS has the agility and versatility to take on all terrains and is uniquely suited to navigate London’s busy streets swiftly and with precision.”

Seven special BMW F750GSs help police fight against bike thieves

First published 22 January 2019 by Jordan Gibbons

Met Police with their new fleet of BMW F750GS-P motorbikes

London’s Metropolitan Police have expanded their bike thief catching capability by investing in a fleet of small, agile motorcycles that are well suited to inner city chases.

The seven machines, which were unveiled last week, are to be used by specially-trained ‘scorpion’ officers who form part of the Met’s Operation Venice – a dedicated task force to stem the capital’s rise in motorcycle theft and moped-related crime.

The new BMW F750GS-Ps have been specially-tailored to the specific requirements of the police riders who’ll use them. The Met say that they are well-suited to navigation through London, with their small size and low weight making them more capable of chasing thieves on mopeds than pursuit cars, R1200RTs or R1250RTs.

The bikes have undergone a bespoke redesign with BMW who have been able to fit all the kit needed by officers, such as sirens and radios, without adding any bulk.

Powered by an 850cc parallel twin, the Met say the new bikes offer more than enough shove while also bringing helpful technology such as traction control, ABS and electronic suspension. The Met are the only police force using these bikes for this purpose.

Chief Inspector Jim Corbett, from the Met’s Operation Venice team, said: “Although my officers have, and continue, to reduce moped-enabled crime, we are not complacent and know that offenders still believe they can evade capture when on mopeds.

“These new vehicles will allow our specialist drivers to pursue offenders. Their lightweight design has been specially tailored to help us reduce moped-enabled crime even further.”

Met Police officers line up with a new fleet of BMW F750GS-Ps

The Met are very proud of the results achieved with Operation Venice, having considerably cut moped-related crime since a peak in July 2017.

Between December 2017 and November 2018, there were 15,168 mopeds, motorcycles and scooters used in offences. In the same period in 2019 this number fell by 42.5% while motorcycle theft fell by 12.5%.

He added: “Whilst we’re pleased to see the number of stolen vehicles and crimes committed reduce, we are calling on the public to help us reduce moped- enabled crime even further by informing the police of any suspicious activity and adding extra security to their bikes.”

New police video targets bike crime

First published 11 February 2019 by Ben Clarke

A police motorcycle crime cartoon

A hard-hitting police video has been released in a bid to cut bike crime and stop scooter thieves terrorising UK streets.

The short video is part of the Met Police force’s ‘Lock, Chain, Cover’ and shows just how much crime can be committed on a stolen machine in just one day. The animation shows a stolen scooter used in several crimes including phone snatches, a ram raid on a jewellery shop and fuel theft. The crime spree is finally brought to an end when officers use tactical contact to stop the offenders in their tracks.

The force say the video highlights the importance of securing your vehicle properly to deter thieves and, “shows how a stolen machine can be used to commit multiple crimes around London affecting several victims.”

It also sends out a clear message that police officers are prepared to use tactical contact when appropriate to bring bike thieves to justice. If you want to speak to the Met about tactical contact, bike crime or anything else (within reason) you can find them at the Carole Nash MCN London Motorcycle Show between Friday, February 14 and Sunday, February 16.

Police deploy clever tech to crack crime

First published 11 December 2019 by Ben Clarke

Police work with anti-theft group to recover stolen motorbike
Britain’s leading bike crime expert says that despite a reduction in UK thefts, it’s still a massive problem and has outlined how police are turning to social media and modern tech in a bid to stem the flow of stolen motorcycles.

Dr Ken German, who spent 25 years with the Met’s stolen vehicle squad, told MCN that theft figures for 2019 are expected to hit 24,000 bikes, taking the tally for the last five years to 141,000 machines with a total value of £156m. 

He said: “Only 45% of these will be recovered, leaving 63,400 machines still unaccounted for all presumably cloned, exported or more likely stripped into component parts and sold.”

Theft figures aren’t available for all EU countries but with France losing machines at an annual rate of 41,198, Italy 39,029, Germany 14,200 and Spain 8000, Dr German says the black market in motorcycle salvage is huge.

Here are Ken German’s top tips for deterring thieves…

  • Lock – Use a disc lock or a grip lock to secure the brake and throttle controls. You could also use a D-lock on the front wheel to stop it being wheeled away.
  • Chain – Use a chain lock through the back wheel. Secure your bike to an immovable object such as a ground anchor or street furniture. Don’t leave any links trailing on the ground.
  • Cover – Thieves often ‘shop’ for particular models. Using a cover makes your bike less attractive to them

Dr German said that the police in the UK are deploying CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Reader (ANPR) cameras in the fight against the criminals and recommend tracking devices, which lead to stolen motorbike recovery in 92% of cases where there’s an active signal.

Police are also fans of hidden DNA marks and passive transponders because they positively identify stolen machines and are often overlooked by the thieves.

Social media and rider groups play a part too, Dr German said: “The stolen vehicle social media pages give officers information on who is doing what and where. Without these aids, motorcycle theft would spiral out of control and forces are therefore working alongside selected volunteer recovery groups rather than branding them vigilantes.”

Taking responsibility for your own security is also key in fighting back against bike crime. He said: “Choosing locks and chains, alarms, immobilisers and covers is still hugely important in trying to prevent your machine being stolen. Basic security dissuades 30% of thieves from stealing a motorcycle so everyone has a part to play in stopping this stealing spree.”

Dr German is still astounded that seven out of ten owners still do not lock their machines when parked up. He said: “The fact it’s ‘only’ 24,000 bikes is a bit of a result, when you consider that this number of victims standing side by side would constitute a queue nine times around Brands Hatch; it does make you think.”

Ben Clarke

By Ben Clarke

Assistant Editor (Motorcycling), hick for life, two cylinders max