POLICE refused to chase a gang of quad-bike-riding thieves who stole a woman’s boat - in case the criminals, who were not wearing crash helmets, got hurt.
Sporty Rebecca Jones phoned the police immediately after seeing the thieves stealing her £700 kayak.
She and her boyfriend Mark Skirrow, 27, tracked the offenders until police arrived.
But Rebecca and Mark say police let the thieves disappear out of sight, and allowed the gang to escape, after refusing to launch a pursuit.
Officers told the couple that because the thieves, on quad bikes, were not wearing crash helmets and were driving erratically, health and safety fears prevented them from chasing them.
Legal executive Rebecca, aged 28, from Swinton, near Rotherham, said: “The police were called immediately and they also followed the gang and caught up with them on the road.
“However, because of the riders’ lack of helmets and erratic style of driving they had to call off the pursuit because of health and safety concerns.”
Rebecca and Mark were among a group who had taken their boats out on the River Dearne at Harlington, Rotherham. They were lifting boats over a gate, and carrying them a few yards to a river bank, when the thieves struck.
Quad bikers raced up, snatched Rebecca’s kayak - one of several she owns - and drove off with it strapped to one of their machines.
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “The suspects were sighted by the caller in a nearby field and police resources were directed to the area. However, officers were instructed not to begin a pursuit. An area search was conducted and all lines of inquiry were explored, unfortunately without gain.
“South Yorkshire Police perform a risk assessment based on the circumstances of each incident. On this occasion a pursuit was not initiated and alternative action was taken in an attempt to apprehend the suspects.”