Gazette ‘experiment’ offers interesting snapshot of town centre crime.

AN unlocked bicycle can often prove too great a temptation for many would-be criminals – but not in Barnstaple it seems.

In a bid to gauge a snapshot of crime in the town, Gazette reporters left a bike unattended on the corner of the High Street and Butchers Row for much of Wednesday.

We observed the bike for eight hours and although three people stopped to look at the bike, we’re pleased to report that no-one attempted to take it.

North and West Devon Chief Inspector Toby Davies said the results were ‘very reassuring and pleasing’.

He said: “It says a lot about North and West Devon that you can leave a bike unsecured for a day and not have it nicked.

“If you had done this elsewhere in the country there is a good chance you would be walking everywhere for the next few weeks.

“I would add that higher value bikes and bikes left unsecured in secluded locations are clearly at greatest risk.

“I would obviously still advise people to do all they can to protect their bikes from theft because, however reassuring your exercise may have been, there is still the opportunist thief out there ready to snatch it.”

Town centre manager Craig Bulley said: “It’s hopefully indicative of the honesty of the community spirit of the general population of Barnstaple.

“But while it’s great nothing happened on this occasion, for peace of mind we would always urge people to secure their property whether it’s a bike or a car in a car park.”

In North and West Devon there were 31 fewer bike thefts in the period from May 2012 to April 2013 compared with the previous year – a decrease of 25.6 per cent.

In Barnstaple town centre there were 24 reported bicycle thefts last year, compared with 25 thefts the previous year.

In Bideford town centre there were two bike thefts last year, compared with four the previous year. In Ilfracombe town centre, figures show four thefts last year compared with three the previous year.

Forcewide, there were 348 (22.4 per cent) fewer bicycle thefts last year, compared with the previous year.