BRAZEN thieves stole bikes worth almost £4,000 from a display in full view of customers in a busy shop.
The owners of Strawberry Cycles, in Peterlee, have been left counting the cost following the theft of the two expensive cycles.
Bosses at the shop, in Davy Drive, on the North West Industrial Estate, say they believe the culprits cut locks that kept the bikes in place before wheeling them out of the door.
Shop owner Marcy Rochester said he and a colleague would have been busy serving behind the customer when the theft happened.
One of the bikes, a Trek Fuel EX 9 model, in a brushed alloy colour, was worth £2,800 and the other, a Lapierre Tecnic 700, in white aluminium, was worth £1,000.
Mr Rochester said the shop was busy between 3.20pm and 5pm last Wednesday, when the incident happened.
He added: “We were behind the counter and it’s like a blind spot where the bikes were.
“They cut the locks and took them out of the shop.
“We didn’t realise until the morning after that they had gone.
“This is our first theft in 10 years – we can’t believe someone’s actually done it. “They have come in knowing what they wanted – I’m absolutely gobsmacked that someone had the brass neck to do it.
“I suppose it’s an easy sale, a bike, especially around this time of year.”
Mr Rochester added that he was hopeful the thieves would be caught, especially as their loyal customers had helped spread the word about the theft on Facebook and police were investigating.
PC Steve Rowe, of Peterlee Police, said: “This is an unusual crime in that the suspects seem to have targeted very high-value bikes.
“They have got to have been in and had a look some other day.
“It has happened at a busy time and sometimes the more brazen thieves are the better – if you look confident, nobody challenges you and it’s possible people might have thought what they were doing was legitimate.”
He urged other retailers in and around Davy Drive to be vigilant and reminded them they can sign up to the Business Watch scheme, a network set up to tackle crime on Peterlee industrial estates.
Anyone with information about the theft is urged to call PC Rowe on (0345) 6060365 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.