A schoolboy gang could be responsible for up to 40 bike thefts across Preston and Penwortham, concerned police revealed today.
A group of three to four youngsters, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, are believed to have stolen thousands of pounds worth of cycles from victims in Broadgate, the University area, and Middleforth.
Aged 15 and 16, the group are suspected to have a professional set up, sometimes stealing several bikes at a time, and quickly respraying them before officers can identify them.
Six bicycles were stolen in one swoop, officers said.
Police have recently received several calls from worried residents reporting a group trying to break into sheds during the night, trying property doors and going into gardens - though they appear to be avoiding properties on main road routes.
Today PC Carl Ingram, Broadgate’s community policeman, said since the start of the year, 13 separate bike thefts had been reported in the three areas.
He added : “They are thought to be due to the same people, and on some occasions more than one bike has been stolen. One family had four bikes.
“Some bikes are worth hundreds of pounds - it makes sense to get a £20 bike lock to deter thieves.
“An investigation is ongoing and we are confident we will catch the culprits. We want to reassure residents action is being taken.
“One suspects has already been convicted of a bike theft but can’t be named for legal reasons.
“We would warn anyone who spots something suspicious to contact us on 101.”