Today’s columnist, Inspector Neil Mutch: Bait bike to catch a thief

Lee Walsh, serial bike thief who took �4,000 of bikes from the University area and was sentenced this week.'These are CCTV pix of him in action, one with bolt cutters.

Lee Walsh, serial bike thief who took �4,000 of bikes from the University area and was sentenced this week.'These are CCTV pix of him in action, one with bolt cutters.

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I’m Inspector Neil Mutch and I am responsible for the Central Safer Neighbourhood Team covering Sheffield city centre and surrounding areas.

It has been a busy few months for me and my team.

One of the highlights of the last few months was the Queen’s visit to Sheffield for the Royal Maundy service at Sheffield Cathedral.

Although the visit wasn’t announced until January, my role as security co-ordinator began back in October last year.

This was a demanding role and in the end became a full-time job for me.

However, it was worth all the work to see the event pass so well on the day.

The success of the event was based on the teamwork of a number of organisations across the city, who all made significant contributions, as well as the support from local businesses.

The spectators who came out to the Cathedral and the surrounding streets on the day and the positive manner in which they welcomed Her Majesty to the city also ensured it was a great spectacle that all involved can be extremely proud of.

As enjoyable as that day was, tackling crime in the city centre is my priority and recently we have been focusing on bike thefts.

With the warmer weather and the The Sheffield Hallam University Grand Prix coming to Sheffield in July, we have seen an increase in the number of people riding their bikes into the city centre.

Unfortunately, there will always be those who want to try to take advantage and steal bikes that are not left securely locked.

We have been carrying out operations recently to prevent bike thefts and one of the tactics we use is what we call a bait bike.

This is a bicycle fitted with a tracking device and left unattended in the city centre.

In the last few months the bike has been stolen five times.

Officers have tracked the bikes and arrested and charged five people who were caught with the stolen bike.

When our officers have carried out follow-up enquiries they have also recovered stolen bikes from the homes of these suspects and returned them to their rightful owner.

We will continue to use the bait bike to catch thieves.

However, my advice to cyclists would be to invest in good quality locks and ensure their bikes are registered to help police to return them should they be stolen and then can be recovered.

* Inspector Neil Mutch of the central safer neighbourhood team