THIEVES rode off with more than £12,000 worth of bikes after repeatedly targeting a business.
The first attempted break in at Strawberry Cycles failed when the criminals struggled to get into the shop.
But undeterred, thieves eventually forced open its shutters and stole six bikes.
Marcy Rochester, owner of the Peterlee shop, said: “It’s affected everybody. Everyone’s uptight. It’s awful for the customers who have come in and given us their support.
“It’s beyond a joke. You go to bed and you feel like you’re waiting for the phone to go to say it’s happened again.
“We will get the money back through the insurance, but we’ll have to pay the excess and we’re having to find more stock.
“All I want to do is run a business and ride my bike. I don’t want much out of life.”
Both Marcy and the police believe some of the bikes may have been stolen to order. CCTV footage is being examined as part of the investigation.
The attempted break in happened on Tuesday, June 12, at 1.10am. The first burglary then happened between 12.05am and 12.35am on June 18, when a Trek Cobia in red worth £850, a grey and black Lapierre Spicey 316 model worth £2,600 and an Orange make in the Alpine model in ice white worth £3,500 were stolen.
In the latest incident, which happened last Wednesday, between 1.30am and 2.25am, a Giant Trans x4 model in black and white worth £1,250, a Giant Trans x2 in grey and black worth £2,000 and a Trek Fuel E x7 in white and black worth £2,000 were taken.
Pc Craig Hines, of Peterlee Priority Crime Team, is investigating the thefts.
He said: “These are high-value bikes and will very recognisable. They are not the usual mountain bikes you might see someone riding on the street, so we are asking people be vigilant and keep an eye out for them.
“If anyone knows anything, we need them to come forward.”
Since the three incidents, a whole security review of the building in Davy Drive, on the town’s North West Industrial Estate, has been carried out, with crime prevention officers’ advice used to install a host of new security measures.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.