AN insatiable demand for cheap trailbikes is pushing thieves to perform brazen daylight raids on motorcycle businesses and midnight blitzes on storage sheds across the Hunter.
Although several arrests have been made as police investigate a series of thefts from at least four storage facilities in a month, industry experts have warned that the black market in the lucrative machines was showing no signs of easing.
Some seven years after a police strike force smashed a ring after hundreds of bikes were stolen across the region, more thefts were being reported as backyard garages gave way to storage sheds as the thieves’ target of choice.
Bikes and riding gear has been stolen at sites including Sandgate, Redhead, Belmont and Morisset in less than a month.
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And prominent businessman Graeme Boyd has revealed his motorcycle dealership was one of two that were targeted last month by a suspect who rode off on a machine after pretending to be a prospective buyer.
“If they are going to do it at motorcycle shops, where we have cameras everywhere, they are going to do it anywhere,’’ Mr Boyd said.
“They are so easy to dump and not be found - they are not being ridden around where highway patrol officers will be pulling them over, they will be pulled out for a Sunday ride through the bush somewhere out the back of Cessnock and Kurri.’’
Mr Boyd said some of the machines were highly sought after and used as currency within the criminal underworld.
“You see a bloke who can't buy a packet of cigarettes riding around on a $14,000 KTM and you have a fair idea where it has come from. And it’s not his wallet,’’ he said.
Lake Macquarie police arrested three men just outside a Morisset storage facility about 3.35am on February 18 after several sheds were found to be open.
One of the men was also charged with stealing a trailbike from Belmont on February 14 after allegedly being caught riding the machine the day after the Morisset arrest.
You see a bloke who can't buy a packet of cigarettes riding around on a $14,000 KTM and you have a fair idea where it has come from. And it's not his wallet.
Two motorcycles remain outstanding in the raids – a 1997 white KTM motorcycle and a 2006 orange KTM bearing NSW registration plates SRX37.