Police are hunting cruel thieves who stole 22 mountain bikes from children in an “organised” raid.
The bikes were stored in a garage at the Speedwell Centre on Whitegate Drive, where they were not only for students at the Speedwell Centre, but were used by several young people’s groups, some due to take them on their very first camping and biking trip.
Other young people were using them for their Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Police and community leaders today said the youngsters have been left devastated by the theft.
Officers believe that because of the large number of bikes taken, more than one person was involved in the crime, which happened between 8pm on May 15 and 10am on May 22.
PC Matt Walters, of Blackpool Police, said: “What makes this all the more upsetting is that it was the Speedwell Centre which was targeted. Young people enjoyed regular bike rides and this is something they now can’t do.
“If anybody has any information at all with regards to where these bikes are now or can tell us who is responsible for the burglary then please contact police.”
Blackpool South geographic Insp Matt Willmott described the burglary as an “organised operation”.
He added: “We continue to ask for the public’s help.
“Someone must know something about 22 bikes being stolen – maybe they’ve seen something suspicious overnight at some point. The removal of 22 bikes sounds fairly organised.
“These distinctive bikes were stolen from a centre that uses them for outreach work with young people who are now going to be severely hampered by the loss of them.”
The thieves stole 14 Kona Block red and black bikes with white wheel rims, seven black Ridgeback Velocity bikes and a Ridgeback Comet grey, hybrid bike.
Coun Sarah Riding, Blackpool council’s cabinet members for children’s services said: “The theft of these bikes is a devastating blow to some of the most needy children and young people in Blackpool as they were used by a variety of groups as well as the students at the Speedwell Centre.
“All the children and young people concerned are understandably very upset and I would appeal for anybody who knows something about the theft to get in touch with the police.”
Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or crimestoppers-uk.org.