329. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice the plan An Garda Síochána has in place to tackle bike thefts in Dublin city; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30294/21]


Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): The Programme for Government commits to significant investment in cycling infrastructure over the lifetime of the Government. This improved infrastructure, in addition to the continued success of the Cycle to Work scheme and other initiatives, have led to a significant increase in the number of cyclists and bikes on our roads in recent years.
Inevitably this has also attracted thieves and unfortunately many cyclists have experienced the theft of very valuable bicycles. It is vital that steps are taken to stop this kind of theft and that cyclists know they can trust that their bike is safe.
The Deputy may be aware that there are a number of initiatives being taken by An Garda Síochána to tackle bike theft, including the ‘Lock it or Lose it’ initiative which was announced on 13 May, which focuses on reminding the public to take extra precautions to keep their bikes safe by locking them in the most secure way possible.
The Blue Bike scheme has also been designed to highlight bike theft hotspots by placing an end of life bike, painted blue, in such areas with a large sign warning members of the public to lock their bikes and be aware of bike theft. This scheme has three goals:
To warn the public that bike thieves are operating in the area;
To deter crime by informing offenders that An Garda Síochána are monitoring the area; and
To thereby create a safer place for members of the public to lock and secure their bikes.
I am informed that, in addition to the ‘Lock it or Lose it’ and Blue Bike initiatives, Gardaí will be resuming property marking schemes and the use of so-called ‘bait bicycles’ in areas which have been identified as bike theft hotspots as we emerge from COVID-19. Other responses that will be pursued by Gardaí include surveillance of known offenders, the monitoring of any offenders’ current bail conditions and where necessary the appropriate action of any breach of their bail with the relevant courts, and proactive policing, both overt and covert, of hotspot areas. 
The Deputy may wish to note that theft is an offence under section 4 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001. Anyone convicted of theft is liable to a penalty of a fine or up to 10 years imprisonment. Under section 14 of the Act, someone found guilty of robbery (theft using coercion or force) is potentially liable on conviction on indictment to life imprisonment. As the Deputy will appreciate, the sentence in any individual case is a matter for the relevant Judge.
In instances where children may be involved in this type of theft, work will also continue under the recently published Youth Justice Strategy 2021-2027 to prevent offending behaviour from occurring and diverting children and young adults who commit a crime away from further offending and involvement with the criminal justice system. The immediate priority within the new Strategy will be to enhance engagement with children and young people who are most at risk of involvement in criminal activity, principally by strengthening the services available through the existing network of 105 Garda Youth Diversion Projects across the State.