FREE bike marking events are taking place next month to help people protect their property from thieves.

Police are holding the events in Fishburn, near Sedgefield, on Saturday, March 1, and Aycliffe Village on Monday, March 10, as part of Operation Spoke, a Durham Police scheme tackling bike theft.

Officers are also working with retailers BikeRegister and with the intention that every new cycle sold in region will be registered to its new owner.

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The operation follows a spate of high-value bike thefts, particularly in the Newton Aycliffe area.

Bike owners who attend the events have the choice of buying a bespoke BikeRegister component marking kit for £9.90 or having their bike marked with an ultra violet pen for free.

All money raised from the sale of the kit will be invested back into tackling cycle crime.

Sergeant Mark Edwards, of Newton Aycliffe Neighbourhood Police Team, said: “It is a simple and effective security measure that means we can trace suspected stolen bikes back to their owners.

“We will also be giving out stickers, which can be attached to bikes to show they have been marked. This can put thieves off.

“It is so important bikes are stored in a secure place, as many of the bikes that have been reported stolen were left on the street or in the garden.”

The Aycliffe Village event takes place at Aycliffe Village Primary School, on North Terrace, from 9am to 3pm.

The event in Fishburn takes place at the Welfare Hall, on Butterwick Road, from 10am to 1pm.