MOTORCYCLISTS are appealing for help to recover bikes worth thousands of pounds after they were taken in a spate of thefts.

Thieves struck in Lever Street and at a nearby address in Radcliffe, between Friday night and Saturday morning. Another motorbike was reported stolen from Little Lever.

Witnesses say they believe the same gang is responsible and that the bikes may have been loaded into a van which has been seen scouring the area. One of the victims, James Meadowcroft, of Ainsworth Road, Radcliffe, had left his red Yamaha bike locked up under a street light outside his friend’s house in Lever Street while he went to a wedding in Rochdale.

However, just after midnight, residents say a van turned up and the occupants set about stealing the bike.

Mr Meadowcroft, aged 27, said: “My neighbours have CCTV and you can see when my friend turns his lights out, they appear just moments later. It looks like they were waiting.

“You can see four of them get out and spend 10 minutes cutting the chain and messing around before wheeling it into the van.

“They seemed to know what they were doing, but they are obviously not that clever or they would not have got caught on CCTV.

“It’s a nice area, it’s never had any trouble so I didn’t think anything of chaining my bike up there.

“My friend has one of those really bright new streetlights outside his house and that’s where I put it. I didn’t think anyone was brazen enough to try and steal it.”

Mr Meadowcroft, an HGV driver, bought his Yamaha FZ1S ABS, worth about £4,000, three weeks ago after selling his old bike and investing a further £1,000 into the upgrade.

Several hours after it was stolen another bike, a Triumph Street Triple worth in the region of £10,000, was reportedly taken from an address in Radcliffe by the same gang, followed by a Suzuki GSX-R in Little Lever at 4am.

Residents had reported they had seen the van in the area before.

Mr Meadowcroft added: “I think they are either stealing them to ship out of the country or to be broken down and sold on as spares.

“I’m just annoyed about it, it’s unacceptable.

“A lot of people have been saying this has happened around Radcliffe, Prestwich, Whitefield and that it’s the same van.

“I put an appeal on social media to help find the bikes and it’s blown up quite quickly. Hundreds of people have been sharing it, it just goes to show the power of social media.”

Police said the thieves had left the Yamaha’s broken lock, chain and cover in the street and asked for anyone who witnessed the crime or had any information to contact them on 101, quoting 163 of April 15.