Op Benelli isn't a band, but they're still making thieves dance to their tune.
By now, you’ve probably heard that motorcycle theft is a major problem for our friends across the pond, all over the UK. One thing that has frustrated riders up and down the land is that police response hasn’t been as proactive as they would like. Opinions as to why are many, but facts are few. Now, one police force is stepping up to do something about bike thefts on their patch. Motorcyclists across Newcastle and Gateshead are currently being looked after by the agents of Operation Benelli.
The six-person task force has been in operation since 2018, and according to the department’s records, is getting good results. Of the 92 bikes reported stolen in the area since April 2019, they say they’ve recovered 50. According to Chronicle Live, the task force has arrested 30 suspected motorcycle thieves in the past three months alone.
Part of this has come from leads generated by the public. If you live in the area and notice something amiss regarding motorcycles and theft, you can email them or give them a call on local number 101 and specifically ask for Operation Benelli. They also have an online form for reporting located here if you prefer.
Since many of the thieves are stealing these bikes so that they can go commit more crimes using them, the task force has been logging any and all crimes committed that involve a motorcycle in any way. By doing this, they can look for behavior patterns that emerge and hopefully track thieves down. So far, they say that they’ve also seized drugs, money, other stolen property, and weapons while engaging in covert Operation Benelli activities.
That’s the other thing, too — in the video above, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Knox specifically referred to the team as “covert.” Since by police reports, many of the thieves involved are as young or 13 or 14, it’s unclear how, exactly, they’re infiltrating such young groups. Still, if those numbers are correct, there might be hope for frustrated motorcyclists in the area. CCTV footage of some thefts is included in the video, and it's kind of amazing just how quickly skilled thieves can make off with your ride.
In the meantime, Northumbria Police suggests using disc locks on your bikes to help prevent theft. Steering locks are very easily snapped, and practiced thieves simply walk their targeted bikes away afterward.
Photo: Northumbria Police mosaic of stolen bikes