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Two people from Liverpool have been jailed for stealing several bicycles in Runcorn.
William Gould and Amy Hughes, both of Breckfield Road North in Liverpool, were captured stealing the mountain bikes on CCTV.
They looked for valuable bicycles that had been left outside shops, schools, homes, libraries, fast food restaurants and other businesses.
Hughes, 28, carried around bolt cutters in a bag and acted as a lookout.
Gould, 44, cut chains off the bikes with the bolt cutters when he needed to do so in order to steal them.
He typically rode the stolen bikes away, with Hughes then casually walking away from the scenes of the crimes.
Officers investigating the thefts spotted Gould and Hughes near to Runcorn’s Shopping City on Sunday 18 October.
Recognising them as the offenders from CCTV footage, they attempted to apprehend the pair.
The officers detained Hughes but Gould managed to flee on foot.
When interviewed in custody, Hughes – who was in possession of bolt cutters, bike hubcaps and a bike chain cover when she was arrested – refused to reveal Gould’s identity.
She also failed to comply with requests to give her correct address, which is also Gould’s home.
However, the investigators managed to establish Gould’s identity and he was arrested in Liverpool on Monday 16 November.
Following their arrests, Gould and Hughes were charged with seven counts of theft.
Hughes was also charged with going equipped to steal.
They both pleaded guilty on all counts.
The charges related to the thefts of eight mountain bikes between Friday 25 September and Sunday 25 October.
Some of the bikes stolen were worth more than £1,000.
Gould was sentenced at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 17 November. He was jailed for 28 weeks.
Hughes was sentenced at Warrington Magistrates' Court on Wednesday 9 December. She was jailed for 32 weeks and handed a Criminal Behaviour Order which bans her from associating with Gould in Runcorn for the next four years.
Police Constable Jenny Tasker, who led the investigation into the bike thefts at Runcorn Local Policing Unit, said: “William Gould and Amy Hughes were travelling to Runcorn to steal bicycles.
“The opportunist thieves travelled with bolt cutters so that they cut the chains off bikes that caught their eyes.
“We are all fully aware that being the victim of a bicycle theft is a deeply unpleasant experience. Anyone would be angry and upset to discover that their bicycle has been stolen, especially if they had taken the precaution of chaining it up outside.
“The bikes of people who had popped into shops, fast food restaurants and other businesses were targeted.
“Gould and Hughes even targeted children’s bikes that were chained up outside a school.
“Thankfully, the pair’s offending was caught on CCTV and we were able to subsequently locate and arrest them.
“To date, they have refused to reveal what they did with the stolen bikes.
“As such, as things stand we have been unable to locate any of the bikes and have them returned to their rightful owners, despite our extensive enquiries.
“Any new information that comes to light regarding the stolen bikes will be investigated.
“We are pleased that Gould and Hughes are both now behind bars facing the consequences of their actions and hope that this case deters others from stealing bicycles and coming into Runcorn or elsewhere in Cheshire to commit crimes.
“We also hope that this highlights the fact that we take all reports of bike thefts seriously and do all that we can to bring the thieves to justice.”
David Keane, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, added: “These types of crimes blight our local communities, so it’s great to see Cheshire Constabulary carrying out extensive work to bring to justice those who travel into the county to commit such offences.
“I am pleased to hear of this latest success in that regard and would like to thank all the officers who have been involved in the investigation.
“As a result of their endeavours, two people have been convicted of a series of bike theft offences and are now paying the price of their criminal actions.”
Cheshire Constabulary’s advice for bicycle owners to reduce the chances of their bikes being stolen are:
Anyone with information regarding bike thefts or the whereabouts of stolen bicycles should call Cheshire Constabulary on 101, give the details via https://www.cheshire.police.uk/ro/report or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.