POLICE are continuing their efforts to prevent bike thefts in Darlington after recording a drop in incidents over the past three months.

Detectives have launched Operation Personify to tackle burglaries from sheds and garages in the town.

Cars and bicycles are among the items stolen, and as well as appealing for members of the public to be more vigilant, police are arranging "traps" to try to catch criminals in the act.

"Whilst we've had some excellent results in relation to vehicle crime, we still have a problem with shed and garage burglaries," said Detective Inspector Paul Harker of Darlington CID.

"What we're trying to achieve with this operation is to try to get an improvement and reduce some of the offences."

The scheme follows the successful Operation Harbour, which ran from October to December last year.

It targeted a group of 12 youths believed to be responsible for the majority of bicycle crimes in the College, Eastbourne and Bank Top wards.

Det Insp Harker said: "Over the period of Operation Harbour, 11 kids were arrested - 40 times between them - for burglaries, thefts, possession of offensive weapons, breaches of bail and breaches of anti-social behaviour orders.

"But we found that incidents of pedal cycles being stolen dropped to 84 during the three months of the operation, down from 123 in the three months before that.

"That was a drop of over 30 per cent, so we are hoping for similar success with Operation Personify."

Police will be creating traps to try to catch thieves red-handed.

Det Insp Harker said: "We are asking the public to be careful where they leave their bikes.

"Sometimes we get people leaving bikes in their garage because they think it's safe, but they have no shed alarms.

"If anyone sees people behaving in a suspicious way, they should give us a ring straight away."

Det Insp Harker also thanked Darlington Auto-Glaze and Wentworth Car Hire for providing services to victims of the crimes.

Anybody with information can call Durham Constabulary on 0845 6060365.