Ofo bike-sharing in Norwich faced arson and violence

Ofo
Image caption An Ofo bike left on railings in Cambridge, where the bike-sharing scheme continues

Dockless hire bikes featured in crimes including arson, violence and a BB gun shooting before the company behind the scheme pulled them from Norwich.

Ofo bikes were available in the city between October 2017 and July before the global bike-sharing firm withdrew.

Fifty-five crimes – including affray, burglary and assaults – were recorded across its time in the city.

Police were called to one cycle set on fire, as well as “youths” on the A47 dual-carriageway road on the bikes.

They were part of 180 incidents which police were called to involving ofo bikes from November 2017 to November 2018 – the latter date being five months after the company officially pulled out.

A Norfolk Police spokeswoman said: “Incidents like these are not unique to ofo bikes and we will investigate all crimes reported to us regardless of what types of transport are used.”

The BBC has contacted ofo for a response.

Image caption Ofo removed its bikes from Norwich less than a year after they were introduced

In figures released to the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act, Norfolk Police revealed they were called to 37 reports of possible or actual criminal damage to an ofo bike or bikes and nine thefts of the cycles.

In July, police were called to deal with a teenager on an ofo bike firing a BB gun, while the previous month a “loud and rowdy” group were riding and crashing the ofo bikes.

When it pulled out of Norwich, ofo, which operates across the world with schemes in Australia, China, France, India, Italy, Spain and Russia, said it wanted to focus on London.

Image copyright South yorkshire police
Image caption In January 2018 police in Sheffield said they were refusing to collect any more of the city’s ofo bikes which had been dumped and vandalised

In Cambridge, where the bike-sharing scheme continues, police recorded 150 incidents from April 2017 to November 2018 including robbery, criminal damage and one firearms offence.

A Cambridgeshire Police spokeswoman said: “Although some offences are likely to have been committed by those using ofo bikes, the majority are offences where the presence of an ofo bike is most probably incidental.

“This is supported by the high number of offences being in categories such as theft, where the bike is likely to have been stolen, or suspicious circumstances, where there may have been no crime at all.”

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