The Met Police’s Cycle Task Force unit has revealed Operation Helium has reunited 12 stolen bicycles with their owners, made 12 arrests and gathered valuable bike thief intelligence.
Operation Helium was set up in September to tackle bike robberies in cycle theft hot spot Brick Lane Market, with officers carrying out intelligence-led patrols in the area. Helium was a joint operation between the MPS Safer Transport Command (STC) funded by TfL, Tower Hamlets local police and Tower Hamlets Market Services.
Every Sunday for four months officers took part in high-visibility patrols, gathered intelligence on suspected cycle theft cases and advised cyclists on security, safety and how to protectively mark their bikes. The Task Force also worked with officers from the Whitechapel Town Centre team and Tower Hamlet Market Inspectors to tackle illegal street trading.
“I am so pleased to have been able to restore 12 bikes to their rightful owners as a result of Operation Helium, however this could have been many more,” revealed sergeant Titus Halliwell of the Safer Transport Command Cycle Task Force. “By reporting your bike if it is stolen, you are increasing your chances of having your bike returned to you if it is stolen.”
The Cycle Task Force was launched last summer as part of London Mayor Boris Johnson’s ‘Cycle Revolution’. Theft was, according to research, prevented potential cyclists from taking to London’s roads on two wheels, unwilling to lose their rides. The Mayor has also launched the MPS Cycle Task Force with 30 officers specialising in cycle-related crime.
Sergeant Halliwell added: “This operation highlights the benefits of our partnership work, not only with Tower Hamlets local police and council, but with all of the 32 London boroughs, allowing Londoners to enjoy cycling safely and free from the risk of theft or criminal damage.”
The Mayor’s transport advisor Kulveer Ranger enthused: "The Mayor is determined to make cycling safer and more accessible to all Londoners and we know that theft is a major worry for cyclists. This initiative is a key part of the Mayor’s cycling revolution and it is good to see it producing real results and tackling those people continuing to prey on cyclists whilst, at the same time, reuniting owners with their much loved cycles."
TfL’s director of Community Safety, Enforcement and Policing Steve Burton added: “The success of Operation Helium shows that TfL, the Metropolitan Police and the Mayor take cycle theft seriously.
“The MPS Cycle Task Force has done a cracking job in tackling bike theft since it was launched back in September 2010 and will continue to do so as more people chose to cycle in London.
“We urge cyclists in London to help protect their bikes by parking their bike at a designated location, securely locking their bikes and ensuring that they are cycle security marked.”