Police in Northumbria, England, announced on July 14 that they had conducted a sting operation that led to the arrest of 12 individuals suspected of stealing hospital workers’ bicycles during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We were left shocked when we recorded a significant spike in the number of reports of NHS staff working at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) being targeted by thieves,” a Facebook post about the sting operation said. “The lack of public transport had led to more staff taking to two wheels for their daily commute and those additional bicycles had attracted more criminals to the area.”
After reports of the bike thefts, members of the community donated bicycles, and police “stepped up” patrols and made arrests, and eventually launched sting operations using planted bicycles.
“We launched Operation Monty that saw us plant a bicycle in an area frequented by the thieves – before monitoring it in plain clothes until one of the suspects took the bait,” the post said.
The sting operation was conducted multiple times and a total of 12 people were arrested, authorities said.
CCTV footage released by the police shows suspects breaking the chain locks before taking off with bikes at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) on June 14. Credit: Northumbria Police via Storyful