A SENIOR police officer has issued a safety warning to parents who buy their youngsters motorbikes for Christmas.

Chief Superintendent John Kelly, of Langbaurgh police, wants all bikes to carry permanent security markings and to be kept in secure places to deter thieves.

"It is a simple thing to buy a child's motorcycle or quad bike, but parents should think carefully about security.

"Simple precautions can be taken which can ensure the machine and its rider are safe," he said.

He urged parents to have the machines electronically marked, to secure them to a ground anchor point and to ensure that sheds or garages where the bikes are kept are alarmed.

He added that for their own personal safety, the youngsters should wear suitable helmets and parents should stay with their children when they are out and about on the bikes, which should only be used in off-road areas and with the permission of the landowner.

As an incentive, Doug Butterfield, chairman of Langbaurgh crime prevention panel, is offering free marking of new children's motorcycles and quad bikes which are bought for Christmas from Redcar store Pentite and France.

The marking will be by electronic devices which can be fixed and hidden on the machine.

Crime prevention officer Jim Brown will be at the store in Station Road on Saturday to offer advice on motorcycle security.

Coun Dave McLuckie, lead councillor for community safety with Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, said: "Buying motorbikes for children can be a risky business.

"Not only has the machine got to be of a high standard, but the control and skill of the rider must also be top class.

"I don't want to stop the sport or enjoyment, but I do want a higher level of responsibility, and this initiative will help bring this about."