AN increase in bicycle thefts has prompted police to encourage riders to check privacy settings on smartphone applications used to record cycle routes.
The advice comes after more than 370 bikes were stolen between September and December last year by criminals using route-logging websites to find where the bikes were kept in East Staffordshire.
The cycles’ value amounts to almost £175,000, with each machine worth an estimated £468.
Sergeant Dave Morris, of Staffordshire Police, who has been investigating the thefts, said: “We suspect some thieves have been using these sites to identify potential victims and high-value bikes.
“Some of the GPS data recorded and shared on them is so accurate you can pinpoint the house where the journeys have begun and ended.
“Users are urged to check the privacy settings of any apps they use and avoid using Twitter and Facebook to share maps of their routes.
“These could potentially identify their home addresses and inadvertently ‘advertise’ the location of their bike to thieves.”
Cyclists are also encouraged to register bikes on Immobilise, a free national online property register.
The log increases the chances of re-uniting stolen property with its rightful owners.