Police are investigating whether criminals are using high-tech apps to identify their targets - as new figures show hundreds of thousands of pounds of high value bikes are being stolen every year.
More than 1,000 cycle thefts were reported on the Fylde coast in 2015 with police saying criminals had focused their attention on high value bikes.
The total value of bicycles stolen in Lancashire in 2015 was £1,813,511 – with the Fylde coast likely to have contributed more than half a million pounds of that tally.
Officers admit the vast majority of bikes stolen are never recovered and say criminals are becoming smarter in the way they operate.
Police say there is no pattern to the thefts but are considering ways in which criminals might identify which homes to target.
One option is that thieves are using data from exercise apps to pinpoint where bikes are being stored.
Sgt Kirstie Whyatt, based at Bispham Police station, said: : “There is no pattern as such but the thieves appear to know which sheds to target, they know high value cycles are being stored there.
“We are looking into what is possible with these apps and seeing whether they could be used to identify the home address of riders.
“We are looking closely at the apps and phoning victims to see if they might have been using them. We are also considering whether thieves are looking out for cars with bike carriers.”
Sgt Dave Sherrington said: “It appears that the recent rise in the purchase of expensive high-tech bikes is fuelling the thefts – the most expensive bike stolen last year was worth over £10,000.”
Sgt Whyatt said police were doing all they could to ‘disrupt’ the behaviour of bike thieves,
“This is a big problem across Lancashire and we are no different on the Fylde coast,” she said.
“What has become clear is the way criminals are changing their behaviour.
“They are not taking any old bike. They are after cycles of high value.
“In the town centre we’re still seeing people cutting chains and taking any bike.
“But in residential areas they are breaking into sheds.”
She said thieves were not advertising large numbers of bikes for sale on online auction or car boot sites but made clear officers were constantly monitoring the selling community.
She said: “We are constantly trying to disrupt the thieves in their operations.
“We want to make it hard for them to get hold of bikes and to sell them on.
“We do keep a watch on Facebook and other sites where items are bought and sold.
“But we are not seeing a lot, if any, of these bikes advertised there.” Sgt Wyatt urged bike owners to make life tough for thieves by ensuring sheds are kept locked.
Officers have also been postcode marking bikes at major events, including Bispham Gala, making them harder to re-sell.
And Sgt Whyatt made clear buyers could also provide vital help.
“We would urge people to use reputable dealers rather than buy items advertised on social media. If they are concerned a bike might be stolen they can always make contact with us and we can check it against our records.
Call 101 or make contact with your local community team.”
In January this year a bike worth £1,200 was stolen after several garages were ransacked in Poulton overnight.
The red and black Cube bicycle, was taken from a garage in Kerslea Road
In the past police have recommended bike owners take pictures of their cycles and have them valued.
In 2015 591 bikes were reported stolen in Blackpool, 172 in Fylde and 239 in Wyre.
Police believe the real number of thefts may be much higher, with many people choosing not to report crimes.
The most expensive bike stolen in Lancashire last year was worth more than £10,000.