Nearly 7,000 bicycles have been stolen across the country in the last 16 months, according to gardaí.

A total of 6,845 bicycles have been reported stolen since January 2020 and 23 April, 2021.

The average value of the stolen bicycles is €500 while 10% of the bikes were worth €1,000 or more.

More than 70% of the bicycles were reported stolen in the Dublin Metropolitan Region for a total of 4,825 bikes.

The Cork City division recorded 299 bicycles thefts over the same period.

Gardaí said only one in five bicycle owners was able to provide a serial number when reporting the theft.

This makes it more difficult to return the bicycle to the owner.

A total of 2,139 bicycles were recovered throughout that period but these were not necessarily stolen during the same timeframe.

Gardaí said bicycles should be locked tightly to immovable objects and bike locks should be kept off the ground.

"Lock your bike indoors or in well-lit areas if possible," a statement on crime prevention said.

Gardaí suggested spending 10-20% of the value of the bike on two locks as well as saving a picture of the bicycle and serial number.

Crime Prevention Officer for the Galway Garda Division Sergeant Michael Walsh said more people are cycling during the pandemic and this is to be welcomed.

"Schemes like cycle to work offer great opportunities to those taking up cycling but it does mean people are investing in more expensive bikes. Therefore, it makes sense to invest in quality locks to prevent bike theft," he said.

Sgt Walsh said this would amount to €140 or €150 on average.

If your bike is stored in a shed or garage ensure it is locked to either an immovable object or another heavy item, gardaí said.

"Take a photo of your bike. Note the serial number, which is located on the underside of your bike close to the pedals. Email the photo and serial number to yourself or store it on the cloud, so you will always have a record of it," Sgt Walsh added.

He said bicycles should be reported stolen as soon as possible.

Gardaí also said that motorists "need to exercise care when encountering cyclists" alone or in groups as they are regarded as vulnerable road users.

In addition An Garda Síochána wishes to remind the public that cyclists are regarded as vulnerable road users and motorists need to exercise care when encountering cyclists, alone or in groups.

"Motorists are advised to give cyclists the space to cycle safely, particularly when overtaking them. Cyclists can be thrown off course by sudden gusts of wind or when having to avoid uneven road surfaces," Sgt Walsh said.

"It is equally important to check your mirrors regularly as a cyclist or other road user could be in your blind spot. Before opening the door of your ensure you check for passing cyclists," he added.

Drivers should also park legally and not disrupt bicycle lanes.

"We all have a responsibility, whether as motorists, cyclists, or pedestrians to share the road in a safe and responsible manner," Sgt Walsh added.