CYCLISTS across Uttoxeter are being urged to check their privacy settings on smartphone applications used to record cycle routes following a spate of thefts.
Between September and December 2012 over 370 cycles were stolen in areas including Uttoxeter, as well as Stafford, Stone, Cannock, Rugeley, Wombourne, Burton, Lichfield, Burntwood and Tamworth.
The total cost of the stolen cycles amounts to nearly £175,000 with an estimated average value of £468 per cycle.
Sgt Dave Morris (pictured), from Staffordshire Police, has been investigating the theft of cycles and said police forces across the county had been investigating how the use of smartphone applications may have related to the thefts.
He said: “We have noticed an increase in the number of high-value cycles being stolen from sheds and outbuildings across the south of the county.
“Our investigations have shown that some of the victims had been using websites and mobile phone apps to log their routes – these sites allow users to view each others routes and track their rides.
“Some of the GPS data recorded and shared on these sites is so accurate you can pin point the house where the journey’s have begun and ended.
“We suspect some thieves have been using these sites to identify potential victims and high-value bikes.
“Many of the sites also link to social networking sites to share routes.
“Users are urged to check the privacy settings of any apps they use and avoid using Twitter and Facebook to share maps of their routes, as these could potentially identify their home addresses and inadvertently ‘advertise’ the location of their bike to thieves.
“Alternatively, they can opt to start the tracking function a few streets away from their home address and stop it again before returning home.
“Through Operation Impact, the force’s ongoing crackdown on acquisitive crime, we’re determined to reduce such thefts.”
Cyclists are also encouraged to register bikes on Immobilise.
Immobilise is the world’s largest free register of possession ownership details and forms a very effective tool in helping to reduce crime and repatriate recovered personal property to its rightful owners.
Immobilise can be used by members of the public and businesses to register their valued possessions or company assets, and exclusive to Immobilise all account holders registered items and ownership details are viewable on the Police national property database the NMPR (www.thenmpr.com).
This online checking service is used by all UK police forces to trace owners of lost and stolen property. In addition Immobilise is checked daily by a huge range of recovery agencies and lost property offices.
As a direct result of Immobilise there are over 250 cases a week where property is returned or information collected that assists the police in investigating criminal activity involving stolen goods.
People concerned by the rise in cycle thefts are urged to visit www.immobilise.com for more information and to register property.