POLICE are urging cyclists to improve their security following a spate of bike thefts.

Three bikes were stolen in four days from outside the Tesco Extra supermarket and attached gym at the Wheatsheaf, Roker Retail Park, Sunderland.

Officers are carrying out patrols and reminding cyclists to make sure they secure their bikes and use a good quality lock.

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The advice is part of Northumbria Police's Operation Soundwave, aimed at tackling opportunist thieves and burglars across the force and promoting crime prevention advice.

Sunderland North Neighbourhood Inspector Tony Carty said: "There have been 20 bikes stolen from the site since June last year. However, there have been nine thefts in the past two months and it's a timely reminder for cyclists as more people are out and about using their bikes during the summer months.

"While we're carrying out patrols in the area at key times, I'd like to remind cyclists to make sure they secure their bike when leaving it, even if only for a short time.

"The problem is not the Tesco site, it's the fact that people spend hundreds of pounds on a bike then invest as little as £1 on a lock or do not lock them at all, and opportunist thieves are taking advantage.

"People should invest in a good quality D-lock or combinations of D-lock and chain to secure their bikes before leaving them.

"It only takes an opportunist thief a few seconds to steal a bike and make off from the area and by taking a few crime prevention steps you can reduce your risk of your bike stolen."