NEARLY three bikes a day are being stolen in Swindon.

The latest crime statistics for the town show bicycle thefts rose by almost a fifth in the last year. Wiltshire Police logged 912 thefts in the 12 months to March 2018.

Now officer have spoken out to riders saying they must take action to keep their bikes safe.

At an event to security mark bikes and offer cyclists advice on how to keep their bikes secure, PCSO Charles Milne said: “Bike theft is a serious thing. A lot of people rely on bikes to get to work. It’s devastating when people lose them.”

Sgt Chris Fells, a police officer of 11 years, said cycle crime was surging around the country: “It’s a constantly increasing issue. The railway station is a massive area for bikes to be stored on a daily basis and cycle crime unfortunately on the rise at the moment, mostly because of how easy it is to steal bikes.”

A cheap cable lock could be snapped by thieves in just 10 seconds, he said.

A group of police community support officers set up stall in Wharf Green at the weekend, registering bicycles with the national Bike Register scheme.

Using a special paint, the officers marked bikes with a reference. The blue paint burns the reference number on to the metal bike frame, meaning it can only be removed if it is filed off.

PCSO Milne said: “We mark the bikes and the numbers get registered on a national database.

“Hopefully, if we find the bikes on people who shouldn’t have them we’ll get them back to the people that should.”

The PCSOs had seen a number of people stop-by, before returning with the bikes to get them registered free of charge.

However, Mr Milne said there was more to securing bikes than just getting them on the national Bike Register scheme.

“The biggest thing is the lock you use,” he said. “Don’t buy a cheap lock, buy a decent one. Look at the reviews online to see which the best ones are.

“Try and lock your bike in places where there are other bikes, public places like the racks provided.

“Make sure they’re locked up at home as well and take a picture of them to go with the description.

“If they do go missing, we will know what bike we’re looking for.

“We can show the pictures of the bikes on police websites and see if people have seen them dumped.”

In March, British Transport Police officers security marked more than 30 bikes as part of a two-day push outside Swindon railway station.

Anyone interested in marking their bicycle with Bike Register can contact PCSO 6287 Milne at Gablecross Police Station on 101.