Gotcha! Hunt is on as thieves steal church volunteer’s bike in capital’s crime epidemic

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In more proof of the epidemic of motor cycle thefts in  London, new CCTV footage shows two men ‘lifting’ one from behind a church.

In the footage two leather-clad thieves in helmets ride up to the bike and one of them simply wheels the 70mph Yamaha YZ4-RI25 away, ignoring the driver of a car going slowly by. His partner in crime rides off slowly too.

And they seemed totally oblivious to people milling around in the playground of the nearby pre-school play group.

The bike had been parked up last Wednesday while the owner, Kyle Wiltsher, aged 20, was visiting the Bromley Christian Centre,  Masons Hill, Bromley, only minutes after another bike went missing from the local high street.

Kyle is a volunteer at the church.

His sister Caroline, who also works at the church, said: “He parks his bike there because he also helps out and volunteers.  He can’t afford another bike  –  it was worth £1,200 and he saved his money for ages for it.”

Hundreds of people are keeping an eye out for Kyle’s blue and white Yamaha with   black duck tape on the handlebars and  a turtle sticker on the back., including  London Pirate FM stations which are  getting listeners to look for it.

The rise in thefts has been caused, partly, by people using small capacity scooters, bikes and mopeds as quick and easy ways to get around the congested capital. The number of couriers using them has rocketed too.

Bikes are easy targets because, unlike cars, which have immobilisers, alarms and sophisticated key devices, the main anti-theft device on a bike is a steering lock.

But increasingly, in London, bikes are being stolen for use in crimes including muggings and even acid attacks. Gangs use them for speedy attacks and quick getaways through congestion.

Comedian Michael McIntyre was recently robbed by moped-riding criminals  while collecting his children from school  in Golder’s Green, north London. The windows of his black Range Rover were smashed and he was  made  to hand over his Rolex watch.

Director at social reform charity Catch 22 based in London, Beth Murray, said: “It’s done by 14 or 15-year-olds who are proving themselves. They stick to their own patch because they know the streets, or they’ll go to the West End because there will be more tourists and richer people with better phones.”

In Liverpool, Manchester and other northern towns, police teams have been struggling to combat the use of off-road bikes linked to anti-social behaviour, shootings and drug dealing.

But London remains the epicentre of the crime wave, with moped crimes ranging from bike thefts, mobile phone snatches, acid attacks and violent attacks on stores and cafes, often involving hammers, knives, and other weapons.

Met police are focusing on a two-pronged solution to the problem.

Police recommend other security measures including trackers, marking devices, covers and chain locks – but thieves have been known to cut through those using angle grinders.

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