No bike thief was convicted last year despite hundreds of incidents being reported to Sussex Police.

Campaigners are calling on the force to take tougher action after new statistics revealed the force only managed to caution one person for stealing bikes in 2023.

Some 798 bikes were reported stolen to Sussex Police between January 1 and December 31 across the city - with 27 stolen from one street less than 100 metres long.

While reported bike thefts in 2023 were down 14.8 per cent from 2022's 937 thefts, cycling campaign group Bricycles said the lack of secure bike parking, particularly in the city centre, puts people off riding to and from the shops and work.

The Argus: There are calls for more secure bike parkingThere are calls for more secure bike parking (Image: Radar)

"The lack of safe and accessible bicycle parking is known to be the main barrier to regular cycling, after a lack of safe cycle routes," said a spokesman for the apolitical group. 

"Nationally, there is also an issue with police action following thefts, with many people reporting a lack of interest from the police - even when victims have found their stolen bikes for sale."

The Argus: Officers on patrol near a bike rack in Worthing town centreOfficers on patrol near a bike rack in Worthing town centre

But Sussex Police insists reports are taken "extremely seriously" and "all viable lines of enquiry are fully investigated."

For 736 of the reported stolen bikes in Brighton, officers were unable to find a suspect for the crime - amounting to 92 per cent of cases.

Where a suspect was identified, 20 people were unable to be prosecuted for a number of reasons, including victims not supporting the police investigation or difficulties with evidence.

Bricycles said the police could use new techniques to catch prolific offenders in the act, following in the footsteps of Hampshire Constabulary which leaves poorly-secured 'bait bikes' with hidden tracking devices in the street for criminals to steal.

Read more: Argus staff steal back stolen bikes from thieves

The Bricycles spokesman added: "This can lead to not only catching prolific thieves, but also uncovering large stashes of stolen bikes that can be returned to their owners."

Sussex Police said bike thefts can also be marked as other crimes on their system, where stolen bikes are discovered as part of their investigation, such as in a burglary.

A police spokeswoman said: “Unfortunately, victims of bike theft are often not aware of the crime for some time after it has taken place and the act itself rarely raises the suspicions of passing members of the public, which makes evidence gathering challenging.

“We carry out a great deal of work with our partners in the community to tackle the root causes of crimes such as these, as well as making sure victims are fully supported once a crime is reported"

The Argus: A room full of stolen bicyclesA room full of stolen bicycles (Image: City of London Police)

27 bikes were reported stolen from the 100-metre-long Charlotte Street in Kemp Town, more than any other road in Brighton.

Only one bike thief was given a caution - in Brunswick Square in June. 

The spokeswoman added: “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."

Five people have been charged and a court outcome is expected soon.

The cycling community group Bricycles also said secure storage for bikes in the city is in high demand, meaning many without a place to lock up their bike safely are forced to leave them in public - where bike thieves roam.

While dozens of shops across Brighton sit empty as shopfronts move online, the group suggested these empty units could be used to securely store bikes inside and behind locked doors.

"Brighton's hugely popular bike hangar scheme, with over 1000 people on the waiting list, is great for bike storage at home but a lack of security in the city centre discourages many people from cycling for shopping trips," said a spokesman for Bricycles

"The Dutch utilise vacant shops to provide secure bike storage in town centres - this is something that is now being seen in the UK and we'd like the council to implement these across the city at various shopping destinations."

The Argus: The dutch are famed for their approach to cyclingThe dutch are famed for their approach to cycling (Image: Alfredo Borba, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The municipality of Utrecht operates 36 "buurtfietsenstalling" - translated to a neighbourhood bicycle shed, where people can securely lock up their bikes in an empty shop for a monthly fee.

Councillor Trevor Muten, chair of the transport and sustainability committee at Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “We are very concerned by bicycle thefts. Secure bike hanger storage, dedicated cycle parking and crime reduction measures are very important priorities in encouraging more residents and visitors to cycle in our city.

“We will soon have 150 secure bike storage hangars installed across the city, and are looking into possible ways of improving bike storage in the city centre.

The Argus: A cycle hangar on KingswayA cycle hangar on Kingsway (Image: BHCC)

“At this stage using empty shops is not being actively considered. But we intend to contact other councils who have tried this to explore the pros and cons of such a scheme.

“Working with communities and businesses, we are very keen to help establish a more prosperous city where fewer shops are empty.

“Our Beryl bike share scheme is a popular way to cycle around the city without owning a bike."