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Fri, May 14, 2010
The New Paper
Bicycle & carriage

By Danson Cheong

BICYCLES locked? Check.

Front gate locked? Check.

You'd think that would be enough to keep bikes safe on landed property.

Not so, say four victims of bicycle thefts The New Paper spoke to.

A locked gate, it seems, is not enough to deter "serious bike thieves".

Company director Jimmy Cheong made an effort to lock two of his mountain bikes, which he assumed would be safe, within the gates of his landed home in the Joo Chiat area.

But the thieves were undaunted.

They climbed over his gate, cut the locks and made off with his prized possessions, a Giant and a Gary Fisher, together worth $4,000.

"They're unbelievable," said the 48-year-old. "The locks, the bikes, they took everything. The thieves are really very daring."

The theft occurred at night on April 6.

The experience has taught him to take better care of his property.

"Now I don't dare to keep my bikes outside. I lock my two other mountain bikes inside my house."

He had kept his bikes locked outside for six months before they were stolen.

He has made a police report.

Another victim, who wished to be known only as Mike, said two of his bicycles were stolen from the front porch of his terrace house in Bukit Timah two weeks ago.

Mike, who is in his 30s, moved into the inter-terrace unit just two months ago.

He told The New Paper: "I'm truly shocked at how brazen these thieves are."

Mike said one of the bicycles was two years old while the other, an Italian-made road bicycle, was only "a few month sold".

His loss? More than $6,000 for the two bikes.

He said: "I kept my bikes at the extreme left corner of my porch, the farthest from the front gate.

"I saw the bikes on March 29. But the next morning when I was leaving for work, they were gone."

He was careless.

"I didn't see a need to lock them; they were behind locked gates and I presumed it was safe.

"When they went missing, my maid thought I had lent them to a friend."

Mike said there were no signs of forced entry on his 1.8m-high front gate.

"I believe the thieves scaled my gate, took the bikes and made off with the loot."

It was only after telling his neighbours about the theft that he discovered similar cases had happened in his neighbourhood.

Stealing syndicates

He said: "My neighbours told me that some bike stealing syndicates operate in the area and target expensive bikes like mine."

He has since made a police report.

Police confirmed the reports made by Mike and Mr Cheong and said investigations are on.

Bicycle thefts have increased dramatically over the last two years, according to police statistics.

Last year, 1,074 bicycles were reported stolen, a 59.1 per cent increase from the 675 stolen in 2008.

This is partly due to the burgeoning popularity of cycling, says Mr Haresh Balani, 46,owner of Treknology Bikes 3.

"Cyclists can keep their bikes on wall-mounted brackets indoors, which helps save space," he said.

Mr Peter Chew, 51, owner of Cycle Corner, also advised cyclists to keep their bikes inside their homes.

All it takes is less than a minute for a thief to break your bicycle lock, said Mr Haresh.

Cyclists who spoke to The New Paper believe that stolen bikes often end up on the black market.

The New Paper had reported last month that expensive bikes were being sold at Sungei Road's Thieves' Market.

Mike made a trip to the flea market to see if his bikes were being sold there, but couldn't find them. He said: "I have heard of crimes like this happening, but I never thought I would be a victim."

dansonc@sph.com.sg

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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