Donated bikes which were destined to go to underprivileged locals have been stolen from a locked community workshop.

Three or four bikes and numerous parts were stolen from Linton Park Community Centre last week, leaving volunteers feeling gutted.

"All that work you've done and someone takes it, someone just helps themselves, you feel gutted," volunteer Andrew Gibson said.

The bikes are sold for a minimal price with the money going towards the community centre.

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Mr Gibson spends five days a week in the "organised chaos" of the bike workshop, getting donated bikes ready for a new home.

"I assess them and see what they're like, if they're worth fixing, then I fix them. If they're not then I strip them for parts," he said.

He has seen more than 100 bikes go back into the community over the past few years.

Linton Park Community Centre manager Rick Mansell said the break-in had cost them quite a bit of money, repairing locks and broken windows.

"These are all bikes which have been donated," he said.

"Who really gets hurt the most is the volunteers, they put a lot of time and effort into this."

Mr Mansell said he believed there had been a recent spate of bike thefts across the community.

"They're going missing from people's locked garages," he said.

"People have just started accepting the thefts as inevitable."

Mr Mansell has pleaded for the thieves to "come and chat" to him if they really wanted the bikes.

"We make the bikes cheap, we're willing to negotiate and you can trade in volunteer time to make up the cost," he said.

When raised with police, Rotorua area prevention manager Inspector Stuart Nightingale said they had not noticed a spike in bikes "being pinched".

"The occasions where bikes are stolen have peaks and troughs, but they are usually in relation to only one or two offenders," he said.

He said a pattern occurred where people would notice the thefts then once police tracked down the offender, the thefts would drop down again.

"Juveniles are responsible for a high portion of these thefts."

Mr Nightingale recommends locking up your bikes even when at home.