PEDAL bikes have become prime targets for thieves in Limerick according to latest figures.
The figures show a 129% increase in the number of bikes stolen in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year.
Crime and traffic related figures which were released a County Limerick Joint Policing Committee meeting for the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same time in 2011 also show that incidences of rape, and the abandoning of children, child neglect and cruelty have all risen.
There were five incidences of rape in the first quarter of last year compared to six in the first quarter of this year - an increase of 20%. The incidences of abandoning a child, child neglect and cruelty have risen from four to five over the same period.
Meanwhile, according to Chief Superintendent David Sheahan, the “significant increase” in the theft of bikes which he says has coincided with the popularity of bike to work schemes, has taken the force “by surprise”
“What appears to be happening is a lot of people have gone into schemes and bought expensive bikes for going in and out to work” Chief Supt Sheahan explained.
There were 32 bikes stolen during the first three months of this year compared to 14 during the same period last year.
“Only last week we identified a suspect and he has been arrested and we are trying to recover some of the items. Certainly it is a trend which took us by surprise,” Chief Supt Sheahan added.
While the theft of pedals cycles has seen a sharp increase, there has been a notable decrease in the theft or unauthorised taking of a vehicle.
There were 95 vehicles stolen in the first quarter of this year compared to 202 during the same period last year – a decrease of 53%.
“That is a huge fall and the challenge for us is to maintain that fall. One of the key things is that some of the key personnel that were caught are currently in custody,” said Chief Supt Sheahan.