Prolific thieves stole bikes from NHS workers in Harrogate during height of Covid pandemic

Two prolific thieves who stole thousands of pounds’ worth of bikes from NHS workers at the height of the Covid pandemic have been jailed for a combined eight years.

Monday, 28th June 2021, 4:10 pm
Updated Monday, 28th June 2021, 4:12 pm

John Roddy and his partner-in-crime, who cannot be named at this stage, stole bicycles from outside hospitals in Harrogate and York during an epic thieving spree between May and October last year.

Just under £7,000 of bikes were stolen from 11 victims, many of whom were working flat out for the NHS during the Covid crisis, York Crown Court heard.

Most of the thefts occurred outside Harrogate District Hospital when staff were having to deal with huge workloads due to the global contagion, said prosecutor Chris Moran.

John Roddy and his partner-in-crime, who cannot be named at this stage, stole bicycles from outside hospitals in Harrogate and York during an epic thieving spree between May and October last year.

He said that one NHS worker in Harrogate had been so “damaged” by the theft of her £400 bike that she no longer cycled to work.

Other hospital workers had been left “extremely distressed” by the incidents at a time of national emergency.

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Some of the bikes stolen from Harrogate were worth over £1,000 and had been locked, but the thieves are thought to have used cutting equipment. One of the bikes was valued at £2,000.

“These victims were extremely distressed given that they were NHS workers,” said Mr Moran.

“One woman said she didn’t even cycle to work anymore. This was targeting of NHS staff at the height of the pandemic.”

The Harrogate woman had been working 12-hour shifts and was “emotionally and physically drained” after working flat out for half a day when she found her bike had been stolen from outside the hospital.

Roddy’s co-accused also fell to be sentenced for handling thousands of pounds’ worth of stolen goods in a separate incident in 2018 and another theft in April 2020.

All but nine of the bike thefts occurred at hospitals. Two other bicycles were stolen outside a supermarket and a bakery. The court heard that Roddy, from Headingley, Leeds, had nine previous convictions for offences including vehicle and bike thefts and was subject to a court order at the time he targeted the hospitals in Harrogate and York. His partner-in-crime had a worse criminal record which included “numerous” thefts and burglaries.

Kristian Kavanagh, for Roddy, said his client had battled drug addiction.

Sarah Barlow, for Roddy’s co-defendant, said her client also had a long-standing drug habit.

Judge Simon Hickey said: “This was targeted criminality of high-value items that were particularly cared for by NHS workers in the main (when they) were working their shifts.

“Both of you were stealing over a period of five months (and) the victims lost just short of £7,000 of goods.”

He said that “numerous victims” had been highly distressed by the thefts and the woman who had been working 12-hour shifts was now “damaged”.

Roddy, who skipped bail following the offences, was jailed for three years and one month. His co- defendant was jailed for five years.