A CYCLE thief has framed himself by posting a photo of a stolen bike on an internet auction site.

Police investigating a wave of cycle thefts in the Stokesley area arrested carpet fitter Craig Evans after recognising his house decor in the background of the picture on the Gumtree website.

The 31-year-old, of Hazel Court, Middlesbrough, admitted stealing thousands of pounds worth of bikes from the area which is popular with cycling clubs after police found his DNA on one of the bikes' water bottles.

At Northallerton Magistrates Court, Evans pleaded guilty to stealing a Scott Foil road racing bike worth £3,000 from Stokesley High Street on August 3 and the theft of Cube Analogue and Giant Anthem bikes worth £800 and £1,800 from Park Square, Great Ayton on July 17.

He also admitted handling a stolen £600 Carrera Kraken mountain bike on August 4.

The court heard Evans, who had been banned from entering Hambleton district ahead of the hearing, waited for cyclists to stop for food and then pedalled away before the owners either noticed or had time to catch him.

North Yorkshire Police issued appeals for help after an alarming rise in bike thefts in the area and say since the arrest of Evans and some suspected accomplices, the crimewave had ended.

Danielle Wild, mitigating, said Evans had been desperate for money after his carpet fitting partner became unable to drive them to jobs.

Magistrate Nigel Bacon said Evans had a serious record of dishonesty offences.

Jailing him for 18 weeks, Mr Bacon said: "These would have been distressing offences for the individuals concerned."