BIKE thieves are leaving a rising number of cyclists stranded at railway stations, according to new research.

Over the last three years, at least 92 cyclists have had their bikes stolen from stations around the North-East, with thefts doubling since 2016.

Frustrated campaigners and victims of crime have called for more to be done to improve security at transport hubs, while the Department for Transport say the matter is of serious concern.

The North-East currently has the lowest rate of bike thefts from railway stations in the country, but the problem is growing, an investigation from the BBC’s Shared Data Unit has found.

Cyclists leaving their bikes at railway stations in the region are most likely to have their transport stolen at Sunderland or Thornaby, which both have a rate of two stolen bikes for every 100,000 people using the stations.

Darlington has the highest number of bikes stolen, with 19 thefts occurring since 2016, while Thornaby has seen the biggest increase in thefts – from one in 2016 to ten last year.

The town’s railway station also has the highest number of secure spaces for bikes, with 152 available compared to none in Sunderland, four in Seaham and just eight in Hartlepool.

Sam Jones, senior campaigns officer at Cycling UK, urged victims to report bike thefts to police and said: “Bicycle theft might seem a relatively minor offence – and unfortunately is sometimes treated as such by some police forces – but it is most definitely not.

“It’s a low risk, high reward crime, with stolen bikes easily changing hands for hundreds or even thousands of pounds on the internet.

“The majority of these bicycles stolen from train stations are not just play things, but are undoubtedly being used as a vital link in someone’s journey to work or school.”

Mr Jones welcomed the Government’s £6.8m investment in cycle-rail parking but said the spaces should be built to high standards of accessibility and security, adding: “This means undercover, with CCTV and close to the station itself, not in some murky car park corner where thieves could operate undetected.”

A spokesman for the British Transport Police said: “Unfortunately, bicycles remain a popular target for opportunistic thieves and British Transport Police works closely with train operating companies to improve security at cycle storage facilities throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

“To help prevent crime, we urge cyclists to invest in good quality D-locks and ensure their bikes are securely marked and registered.

“Getting your cycle registered helps police trace recovered cycles and return them to their owners. Additionally, it makes your property less appealing to would-be thieves.”

The Department for Transport’s spokesperson said that the number of station cycle racks had been tripled since 2009 in a bid to help commuters lock their bikes up securely.

He added: ““Bike theft is a serious concern for cyclists and we want to ensure that the right infrastructure is in place to minimise this.”