Burglars in Gloucestershire stealing goods to order
BURGLARS in Cheltenham have started stealing goods to order – advertising items online before they have even snatched them.
In a new ruse to avoid detection, thieves are eyeing up goods such as mountain bikes and advertising them on internet auction sites before returning to steal them when a buyer comes forward.
It means they can move stolen goods on immediately and it is harder for police to trace because transactions are already completed by the time the victims realise anything has been taken.
The trend has been spotted by Bournside pupil Jacob Boylan, from Leckhampton, who had a £1,000 mountain bike stolen last week.
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The 15-year-old was followed home two weeks before the orange 222 model was swiped from his garage.
He said: "We're convinced the guy was scoping my bike so he could come back and steal it at a later date.
"I didn't see anything online but it's possible it was advertised there before it was taken.
"We know that kind of thing goes on. It happened to a friend of mine who also had his bike stolen.
"He saw a photo of it go up online before it had been taken and thought it was strange.
"Now we know why that happens – it means they are waiting to steal it."
In addition to being followed home one day, Jacob also spotted a man looking over his hedge before the burglary.
When he challenged the man, who approached in a van, he claimed he was just looking for a lost football. Jacob's mum Beth Lytton-Heather said it was not the first time Jacob or one or his friends had been targeted.
She said: "We know that sometimes Jacob and his friends who go cycling have been followed down the hill and it does make you worry.
"It's not nice to think they are being watched."
She said she suspected her son's bike could have been sold online prior to the burglary.
The burglary took place between 11pm on January 20 and 8am the following morning. Thieves broke into the locked garage and dismantled the filing cabinet the bike was chained to.
Police urged people to contact them if they saw anyone scoping out their property. A spokesman said: "If you see anyone acting suspiciously around your home, or checking out high value items such as mountain bikes, then report it to police. Also if you see any of your items advertised online then let us know immediately."
Anyone with information about the bike theft can contact officers on 101 quoting incident number 48 of January 21.