Just one in every one hundred reported bike thefts in the county resulted in a charge last year.

Some 2,273 bike thefts were reported to Sussex Police in the year to March – with just 23 leading to a charge or court summons.

But despite a lack of results, with thousands of cyclists left out of pocket, the force is urging people to keep reporting the thefts in case a bicycle is found and can be returned.

Chief Inspector Dan Hiles said: “We understand how important bikes are to people in Sussex and we take all reports of bike theft extremely seriously.

“While there is a low number of charges relating to theft of a pedal bike, the return of many stolen bikes are often recorded under other crimes – for example where an offender has been charged with burglary and stolen items, including bikes, are discovered in their possession.

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“We carry out a great deal of work with our partners in the community to tackle the root causes of crimes such as these and gather any available evidence to identify perpetrators.

“It is important victims continue to report any thefts to us as soon as possible and also take note of any identifiable features, such as serial numbers and distinctive marks so that, should that property later be recovered, it can be returned to its rightful owner.”

Of the 2,273 bike thefts reported to Sussex Police, officers were unable to identify a suspect in 92.3 per cent of cases and 4 per cent were dropped because of evidential difficulties.

Keir Gallagher, campaigns manager at the Cycling UK charity, said the "scourge" of bike theft will carry on until criminals "believe there is a genuine risk of being caught".

He said: “While we acknowledge the limitations on police resources, with more than half of stolen bikes being sold online, there is clearly scope for improved targeting of online marketplaces to identify and prosecute serial offenders and organised criminals.”

He urged local authorities, employers and businesses to invest in better bike storage.