CYCLE owners in Chester are to get some “Special” attention during the next few weeks.
Officers from the Special Constabulary will be carrying out an operation designed to target all aspects of bike-related crime as well as handing out information on road safety.
The operation has been timed to coincide with the darker mornings and nights as well as the Christmas period which historically sees an increase in the number of new bikes in the city.
Special Sergeant Andrew Warren said: “The primary aim of the operation is to reduce incidents of bicycle-related crime and increase public awareness of bicycle safety.
“High visibility uniform patrols will target hot spot areas which have been highlighted by current intelligence and crime patterns. Meanwhile uniformed patrols will provide reassurance to local residents and the general public.
“In recent months we have seen an increase in cycle thefts in the city and, despite excellent work by officers, the number of incidents continue to rise.
“Officers from the Special Constabulary will be working alongside colleagues from Chester Inner and Chester Outer NPUs to tackle this issue and take steps towards a reduction in the number of incidents.”
Much of this will involve educating cycle owners – showing them a variety of security measures available to them and which ones are most effective as well as offering marking schemes that will make bikes easily identifiable.
Sgt Warren added: “People are prepared to spend hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pounds on bikes and then fail to employ security measures to match.
“We want to make sure that every owner is using the most relevant security device and can be fairly confident that by doing so they will be deterring the vast majority of potential thieves.
“Of course there are some criminals who are not deterred by any form of security and this is where marking property is vitally important.
“Police officers recover hundreds of stolen pedal cycles every year and sadly many never find their way back to the rightful owner.
“This is generally because there is no way to identify the bike as belonging to a particular person.
“Simple methods such as engraving, stamping or marking with an ultraviolet pen can ensure that a recovered bike will be reunited with its owner.
“We will be training our officers to use these marking systems and will be out and about in Chester in the near future to ensure as many bikes as possible are marked.”
Police will also be on hand to offer road safety advice and to take action against anyone found to be using their cycles inappropriately.
Special Sergeant Gareth Dudley said: “One of main concerns is the number of people who are using bikes and putting their safety at risk.
“We see countless examples of youngsters, and adults, using bikes without adequate lights as well as cycling whilst wearing dark clothing which can make them difficult for motorists to spot.
“We will dish out advice about what people should wear and what lights they should be using and will also carry out safety checks to make sure the cycles are roadworthy.
But it is not all good news for cyclists.
Sgt Dudley added: “We want to promote the safe use of bikes which means that we will also be cracking down people who cycle recklessly and put themselves and others at risk.
“There are a number of legislations available to us to ensure that swift and robust action can be taken against anyone found to be cycling antisocially or dangerously.”
This legislation includes careless cycling, riding a pedal cycle under the influence of drink or drugs and driving a carriage (including a bicycle) furiously in the street.
Sgt Dudley added: “We are not seeking to criminalise cyclists – the main aim of the operation is to ensure their safety – but we have to consider the welfare of pedestrians and other road users and where this is felt to be compromised we will not hesitate to take action.”