A MUM fears bicycle thieves in the town are running rampant without fear of being caught after she found her son’s stolen bike for sale online but being told by police they could not help her.

A £500 bicycle belonging to 14-year-old Owen Pack was stolen on September 20 after he had chained it to metal railings in a park adjacent to the Bermuda and Marlowe Practice Partnership, off Shakespeare Road, Popley.

After reporting the bicycle, a Christmas present, stolen, mum Carol Pack was told by police as there was no CCTV in the area, it is difficult to investigate the crime. She was told to keep an eye out on online sale sites such as Gumtree and Shpock and then approach the seller if the bike was listed, appealing to their better nature.

The next day, Pershore Road resident Carol found the bike for sale on Gumtree but the police said they could not help the family as they could not supply the serial number for the bicycle.

Carol argued that she could identify specific pieces of damage on the bicycle but police said this was not enough.

A Hampshire police spokesman said: “Without a serial number or other security markings for the bike it was not possible to prove, on the basis of the information provided to police, that it was the same bike.

“Police would not have powers to seize the bike without first being able to confirm it was the stolen bike.”

Regardless, Carol contacted the seller to arrange a meeting with a view to confront them but within minutes she was told the bike had been sold.

However, an hour later, the same picture of the bike appeared on Shpock and Carol again contacted the seller, this time accusing them of stealing the bike.

She received no response before the advert was taken down soon and the person also closed their Facebook page.

The bicycle has still not been retrieved.

Carol said: “My husband contacted the police very frustrated with the situation to be told that although sympathetic what could they do they are under resourced and underpaid.

“We asked about accountability for these sites selling goods to be told that they are not UK based and we have no control over them.

“In my opinion the fact that we don’t have enough police presence is allowing criminals to operate unchallenged and they know that this is fuelling the amount of bikes being stolen in the area.

“I think people need to know about this and how to protect against it.”

A Gumtree spokesperson said: “We do not tolerate the listing of stolen bikes on our platform and have measures in place to ensure that Gumtree is a safe place to buy bikes and accessories. We encourage users to report anything suspicious to us through the ‘Report’ button, which sits alongside every ad on our site. Our dedicated safety team will investigate, and blacklist and block bad users. We work closely with law enforcement to share information and assist their investigations.

“When searching for a bike on Gumtree, we recommend asking the seller for the frame or registration number, so it can be verified on Bike Register. If you are concerned that an item you’re viewing is stolen, report it to the police immediately. We list prominent safety advice for all users on our website, a summary of which can be found at help.gumtree.com.”