Senior police have admitted that break-ins to sheds across Midlothian is a “huge problem” despite efforts to raise crime prevention awareness.
Midlothian West Inspector John Dryden said there was “little good news” on the house break-in front.
“We are getting hammered, he told Penicuik and District Community Council.
“There are two elements - organised gangs operating between Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian and the Borders entering through insecure windows and stealing handbags and taking high value cars.
“The second is the opportunist in relation to break-ins to garages and sheds. Whereas house break-ins are a force issue, break-ins to sheds are in Midlothian.
“People, for some reason, put £400 to £16,000 worth of bikes in sheds with a £2 lock on it.
“These gangs do research to see where bikes are and see the lack of security. Opportunists will steal bikes at night and from gardens,” he said.
Insp Dryden added: “Is it an epidemic? That is a bit emotive. There is no hiding from it. It is a huge problem in Midlothian.”
He added that last year police recorded the theft of 340 bikes - almost one a day - but he had anecdotal evidence that manymore were stolen but never reported.
Asked if the break-ins were drug related Insp Dryden said substance and drug abuse often played a part. “The vast majority have an addiction of some sort,” he added.
He moved to reassure community councillors: “Dalkeith has a significant drug problem, Penicuik not so much. We get a lot of intelligence from the community.”
Insp Dryden said shed thieves were looking for the “path of least resistance”. Measures such as movement sensor lights and a shed alarm would help deter the thieves.
He added that a change in structure now meant there was a 60/40 split in favour of community officers in the county.
“My aim is to get officers on your streets, high visibility, putting themselves about. But we are trying to do so much with limited resources,” said Insp Dryden.