CYCLISTS are urged to be on their guard following a spate of bike thefts across the district.

The cycling boom of recent months has provided more pickings for criminals.

West Yorkshire Police say bikes have been taken from private homes, as well as from public areas and business premises.

“Cycles are a popular target for thieves because they can so easily be stolen and sold on,” said a spokesman.

“There has been an increase in thefts recently, but there’s lots of advice available to help people keep their bike safe.

“Always lock your bike whenever you leave it, even if you are just going to be a few moments.

“Mark the frame with your postcode and add a ‘Coded Cycle’ sticker to let thieves know. Marking the frame will help us to get the bike back to you if we find it – we have thousands of unclaimed, unidentified bicycles.”

Cyclists can also formally record their bike, with a photograph and other details – forms are available from police stations and bike shops.

If the bicycle is stolen and subsequently recovered, the information can then be used to match-up the bike with its owner.

When buying bicycle locks, police advise that people should opt for one made from a loop of solid metal.

“Chains deter the casual thief but they can be easily cut with the right equipment,” said the spokesman.

“And always lock your bike to something solid, like a lamp-post or railings.

“If you have quick-release wheels, take off the front wheel and lock it to the frame and back wheel. An increasing number of bus and railway stations in West Yorkshire have secure ‘sheds’ where you can lock your cycle, safe from criminals – and the weather!”

With the onset of darker nights, police say cyclists should also take steps to help keep safe.

The spokesman added: “Whether it’s for work, school or pleasure, cycling has many benefits. It’s convenient, environmentally-friendly and can help you keep fit – when it is done in a responsible and safe way.

“Highly-visible clothing and a helmet that meets the British Standard should be worn at all times and when cycling at night you must have front and rear lights on your bike and it is advisable to wear reflective gear.”