A LOCAL businessman is petitioning online auction and sales sites in a bid to block stolen bikes being flogged over the internet.

Matthew Rice, who is a partner with bike theft prevention firm Veloeye, wants eBay and Gumtree to make frame identification numbers a requirement of sale.

And their demands for tightening up are already winning support in Westminster.

Bikes are the most stolen items in the Borders and most other parts of the UK.

It is thought many are then sold on through various online sales sites.

But Mr Rice believes an ID frame number requirement on the two most popular sites would cut down the sale options for thieves.

He told us: "I am asking for Gumtree and eBay to insist upon frame numbers when bikes are being listed for sale.

"Bicycles are the most stolen item in the UK today and it is due to how easy it is to sell them online.

"Well, let’s make it impossible to resell online.

"The solution is simple.

"A bike has a frame number stamped in to the bottom bracket, if this number was being recorded it would make it considerably more difficult to sell a stolen bike.

"A car's VIN number is required to list it for sale so a bike's frame number should be no different.

"The recording of a frame number would also greatly improve the chance of a victim getting their bike back."

It is estimated that over 500,000 bikes are stolen in the UK every year with only around 10 per cent being returned to their owners.

Almost every week in the Borders at least one or two incidents of high-value bike theft are reported to the police.

Peeblesshire-based Veloeye was launched by Mr Rice and business partner Mark Lawson in a bid to combat the growing trend of high-value bikes being stolen.

The unique security kit, which uses the power of social media for sending out alerts, allows owners to register their bike as stolen and make it easier for tracing as well as more difficult to be sold on.

Although highly-effective, the online loophole on auction and sales sites with frame numbers not being required still gives thieves an outlet.

Mr Rice's online petition demanding changes from Gumtree and e-Bay has already reached its 1,000 signature target.

And MP David Mundell is now pressing the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, to back the calls for legally making frame numbers an online sale requirement.

Mr Rice added: "Mr Mundell was in agreement that there needs to be a tightening up of online selling.

"Through Veloeye we email out all the details that police need if a bike has been stolen, including full description and the frame number, but we need these online sites to help us prevent the bikes being sold on easily.

"At the moment bikes stolen in the Borders are going south to be sold on websites in places like Bristol - if frame numbers were required it would be easy to check and see if the bike had been stolen."