Bikes are vanishing from garages, carports and doorways amid a wave of thefts that some cyclists are attributing to an organised gang working the streets of Tauranga.
Police are urging owners to photograph their bikes, record their serial numbers and lock them away out of sight whenever possible.
The number of thefts recorded by Mt Maunganui police in the past two weeks - 17 - has already matched the figure for the whole of January. Posts on social media suggest that many additional thefts have occurred at the Mount and across the city.
Upset victims are reporting losses on noticeboards almost daily as they try to recover their bikes. Among those missing are some given as Christmas presents and others taken after chain locks were cut.
Among recent examples, one woman posted to say her son and his friend had their locked mountain bikes stolen from Mt Maunganui's Night Owl Cinema on Saturday night.
"We also had two bikes stolen from downtown the Mount shops before Christmas," she said. "Mounties, please don't let your bikes out of your sight. It is not enough to lock them up."
A man posted a photo of a bike he said was stolen from outside the Mount Social Club on Friday, while another woman suggested there must be an organised crime group at work.
"It is too frequent and they are stealing from good families that can't afford to replace them," she said.
The Bay of Plenty Times spoke to the owner of one Tauranga cycle shop who said a customer lost a $2500 bike two Saturdays ago within 15 seconds of parking it outside his store.
Police agreed there had been a rise in the number of bike thefts.
Acting Senior Sergeant Mark Holmes of Mt Maunganui said bikes had been stolen from public places as well as private homes.
On Saturday evening alone, three bikes were stolen from a private carport in Campbell Rd and a further two were taken from Maunganui Rd near Event Cinemas. In both cases, the bikes were secured by chains. Tauranga had also had three bikes taken in one night recently.
Holmes said the thieves seemed to be targeting the more upmarket bikes and although some had been locked and hidden away, some others had not.
He urged owners to record details of their bikes to help with recovery.
"Police often locate bikes, or have them handed into us, but that's not much use if we are unable to find the owners to reunite them with."
Of the 17 bikes losses reported to Mount police last month, five were taken in burglaries from private homes and 12 were taken from public places, mostly around the central business district. Several were chained but had the locks cut.
As of yesterday, 17 bikes had been stolen in February. Ten were taken in burglaries and the remaining seven from public places. Again, several were said to have been locked.
What to do
- Photograph your bike
- Record its serial number
- Keep it locked when unattended
- Store it in a shed at home
- Etch a phone number into the frame
- Call 0800 555 111 with info on thefts
Help Corey find his bike
From the scene of the crime, Hayley Maxwell sought clues that might help her recover a bike.
Among the evidence was a chain lock that was severed by thieves who made off with her 14-year-old son's Avanti Thunder while he was attending the Night Owl Cinema on Saturday night.
You're not even safe when you lock your bike. It's bloody ridiculous."
Her son, Corey Fluerty, had locked the $500 Avanti by itself near Burger King while his brother and two friends had locked theirs together. The thieves targeted the bike that was alone.
Mrs Maxwell reported the theft to police and hoped security cameras would help shed light on who had taken it. She had bought the bike for her son three or four years ago and had recently had it serviced.
"It's really upsetting for us all," she said. "You're not even safe when you lock your bike. It's bloody ridiculous."
But the story ended well for the family.
Yesterday afternoon, police recovered the bike.