Cyclists across Staffordshire are being urged to check their privacy settings on smart phone applications used to record cycle routes.
Between September and December 2012 over 370 cycles were stolen in areas including Stafford, Stone, Cannock, Rugeley, Wombourne, Burton, Uttoxeter, Lichfield, Burntwood and Tamworth.
The total cost of the stolen cycles amounts to nearly £175,000 with an estimated average value of £468 per cycle.
Sgt Dave Morris, from Staffordshire Police has been investigating the theft of cycles and said: "We have noticed an increase in the number of high-value cycles being stolen from sheds and outbuildings across the south of the county.
"Our investigations have shown that some of the victims had been using websites and mobile phone apps to log their routes - these sites allow users to view each others routes and track their rides.
"Some of the GPS data recorded and shared on these sites is so accurate you can pin point the house where the journey’s have begun and ended. We suspect some thieves have been using these sites to identify potential victims and high-value bikes.
"Many of the sites also link to social networking sites to share routes. Users are urged to check the privacy settings of any apps they use and avoid using Twitter and Facebook to share maps of their routes, as these could potentially identify their home addresses and inadvertently ‘advertise’ the location of their bike to thieves.
"Alternatively, they can opt to start the tracking function a few streets away from their home address and stop it again before returning home.
"Through Operation Impact, the force’s ongoing crackdown on acquisitive crime, we’re determined to reduce such thefts."