After young cyclists were reportedly threatened with a knife, a kind-hearted Leighton Buzzard bicycle shop is offering itself as a ‘safe harbour’ for children.
Dorvics Cycles, Bridge Street, says that anyone is welcome to come through its doors, where staff can secure their bikes, allow them to call their parents, and offer a safe environment.
The initiative came after reports on social media alleged that four children had been threatened by two boys carrying a knife - and asked to hand over their bikes - on August 30 at 2pm in Station Road park, Linslade.
Barry Fitz-Patrick, admin manager, claimed: “Really we made the decision very quickly - we started hearing this one story in particular about a young lad held a knife point. Sadly, there are also a couple of other groups in town on bikes, throwing abuse at people and throwing stones. I’m not saying it is always them but it is this type of thing.
“We’d heard of a safe harbour scheme like this in Southampton and thought it would be a good idea.
“At least there will be adults in the shop to look after the children and we can lock the front door if it’s that threatening.”
The team - Ashley Lewis, owner, and staff Tim, Carl and Barry - have previously worked with Bedfordshire Police, as they held an event in December with PCSO Rachel Carne who was offering to security mark customers’ bikes for free.
In light of Dorvic’s new scheme PCSO Carne has teamed up with the shop to offer advice.
Barry said: “We discussed a simple checklist that can be communicated to help in the case that any child (or adult) faces a situation where they have their bike stolen from them under threatening circumstance.
“They key points are as follows:
“Ensure you have a good quality photo of your own bike to help with its recovery should it get stolen
“Make sure the you have the bike frame number (usually located on the frame underneath the pedals of the bike)
“If a crime is in progress, or just occurred, call 999 as soon as you can
“Try to get a good description of the offender/s and how many of them there were
“If the crime has already taken place call 101 to report it.”
PCSO Carne will be coordinating a bike safety and security event at Astral Park during the autumn half term, which will include safety and security information, bike security tagging, basic maintenance information/tips on keeping your bike in good condition and some practical riding tips.
Dorvics will be supporting this and will publicise the date and time of the event as soon as it has been set.
A Bedfordshire Police spokesman, said: “Bedfordshire Police takes all reports of bike theft seriously as well as running proactive investigations into this type of criminality.
“At all of our community meetings in Leighton Buzzard we run bike marking sessions, and our local team also works with the British Transport Police in this area.
“The Police and Crime Commissioner and senior officers were in Leighton Buzzard last week to reaffirm our commitment to the town, listen to residents’ concerns and reassure them that crime will not be tolerated.
“One of our officers has confirmed that additional patrols have been stepped up in key locations, such as parks and our community team is following up enquiries with victims.”