COMMUTERS are being warned to beware of a man police believe is impersonating rail staff to snatch bikes left at train stations.
British Transport Police (BTP) believe one person is behind the bike thefts, which have taken place at stations from Tyneside to Yorkshire.
He wears a distinctive orange high visibility vest or yellow jacket like those worn by rail staff.
But despite circulating CCTV images of the man, his identity still remains a mystery.
Chief Inspector Derek O’Mara said: “We believe this man is operating throughout the Teesside, Yorkshire and Tyne and Wear areas and, so far, we have linked him to at least four separate incidents, stealing cycles valued at nearly £2,000.
“We also believe he is dressing as a member of rail staff to avoid raising suspicion while he steals the cycles.
“The man has been caught on camera at Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Hull and Selby.
“The images are excellent quality and we believe someone, somewhere must know who this man is.
“I would ask that anyone who has any information, however small, that may assist our investigation to please contact us.”
Officers said that bike thefts are on the rise across the country and are urging cyclists to take extra care when leaving their bikes at stations.
“Regrettably, the theft of cycles is on the increase nationally and rail stations are often a target due to the number of bikes being left by passengers for long periods of time, but this is an emerging issue which is affecting everyone.
“BTP is cracking down on this type of crime and wants to send a strong message to thieves that we have a dedicated team of officers specifically focused on tackling this type of crime.
“We are undertaking plain clothes and high-profile operations to catch thieves in the act. Thieves should also be aware that most cycle racks are covered by CCTV so it’s only a matter of time before we track them down.
“We are also working closely with cycle and second-hand shops in the area and are monitoring online sales sites to make it more difficult for thieves to sell on stolen property.”
Anyone with information should call British Transport Police on Freefone 0800 405 040 quoting background log NEA5 on September 28, 2012, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.