THIEVES stole £12,000 worth of bikes from a keen cyclist by sneakily using a specialised cycling phone app.

Adam Jones, 51, was left in a “state of disbelief, anger and despair” after the theft of five top-of-the-range bikes from his garage on Tuesday night.

The raiders stole a number of high performance bikes, including a Specialized Tarmac, a Dolan Scala time trial bike, a Bianchi Oltre XR2 and Infinito CV, plus a BMC Roadmachine.

Mr Jones, of Barling, said: “What’s especially upsetting is that the bikes also have many memories and emotions connected with them.

“I rode the Specialized over the famed cobbles of the Roubaix Challenge in northern France and in the 2015 RideLondon event.

“On both occasions I was raising money for Southend Hospital and have lots of adventures on it. My time trial bike isn’t something you can ride to the shops on, to get a packet of crisps and a Pot Noodle.

“So it seems that whoever took the bikes knows that they can sell them on to a specific market.”

While talking to one bike shop after the theft, the owner explained that a cycling app called Strava, which is used to record cycling routes and times, could be partly to blame.

The owner claimed thieves could use the app to find those with the fastest times, which means they have the fastest bikes, and then use the route feature to look at where they live.

Mr Jones added: “I’m not looking for sympathy. I simply want my story to help other cyclists and prevent their treasured bikes being pinched. My advice would be to check your privacy settings on Strava, beef up the security of your prized possessions and make sure that your insurance is fully up to date.

“I’m resigned to the fact it is highly unlikely I will see my bikes again but if I can prevent the same people who thought it was perfectly okay to break into my property and steal what is mine, then I’ll sleep a little easier.”

Essex Police confirmed it was investigating the theft and enquiries were on going.

Call 101 quoting crime reference number 42/135756/18.