A north-east businessman has hit out after thieves raided a store and stole eight electric bikes worth thousands of pounds.
The director of CycleHighlands in Ballater’s Victoria Road spoke out after the shop was broken into at the weekend.
The bikes, which are valued at more than £16,000, included seven Merida models and one Cannondale.
Director of the store Richard Watts appealed for members of the public to get in touch with police if they have any information about the incident which happened at 3.20am on Sunday.
He said: “The police have been brilliant but they can’t get here quick enough.
“The vehicles involved have been spotted, they had vans. If people have any information they can contact the police.”
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It is not the first time the store has been broken into, but last time the thieves were caught in the act as the shop’s alarm system activated, alerting staff to their whereabouts.
Mr Watts added: “They knew what they were doing, they were in and out within two minutes. I was there four minutes after the break-in and they were all gone.
“They didn’t take keys or chargers, so they wouldn’t get even near to the value of them and they will have a limited life.
“The cheapest bike was just over £2,000. I don’t think we’ll see them again. It’s picking on rural businesses.
“There’s only so many times that the insurance will pay out.
“It’s happening all over Britain. Merida said that four other bike shops were done on the same night in the UK.”
Detective Constable Ailsa McKain, who is leading the investigation, said: “In particular we want to trace the movements of two transit vans – one blue and one white – which were seen in the Dinnet and Ballater areas around the time in question.
“I would urge anyone who saw anything suspicious to get in touch, and also ask anyone with dash-cam footage of these areas to let us know.
“In addition if you are offered these bikes for sale please get in touch as soon as possible.
“Anyone with information should contact police on 101.”