“So many bikes were being traded, those involved would have been able to set up a business supplying teams in the Tour de France if they wanted to,” a source said.
“It is a very big and lucrative operation.”
The discovery was made as part of the nationwide Operation Thor.
During a raid on a house in the Castletroy area, gardaí discovered over 70 bikes. Many were expensive racing-style machines. The bikes were found in an open area at the rear of a house targeted by gardaí, under Superintendent Derek Smart of Henry Street Station.
They were covered by plastic tarpaulin and all the wheels had been removed to facilitate their ‘packaging’ with the use of plastic ties.
“They were placed together in such a way that would make it easy to transport them in big loads,” said the source.
“They also included a large number of children’s machines. Many would be quite expensive. While the owners of some of the bikes have been located, the investigation has now been broadened to try and find other owners.”
The bikes were reportedly brought to a certain provider who paid those directly involved in the thefts.
Gardaí suspect the man has already sent a number of large consignments of stolen bikes from Limerick to Europe. “It would seem that he has his own network on the continent and has a lucrative market for the bikes he sends on. Some of the racing bikes would fetch large sums of money given the popularity of cycle racing on the continent,” one garda said.
Suspicions were aroused by large transport vans calling regularly to the house to remove loads put together for export.
Gardaí suspect it has been a long-running operation.
Meanwhile, a Cork-based bike shop said bicycle thefts are ‘rife’ in the city. While Dublin has been highlighted in the past as a blackspot for bike thefts, the problem is just as prevalent outside the capital, according to Jerry Cunneen of The Bike Shed on Barrack St. “We often have people coming in asking if they can get a second-hand bike because theirs has been stolen,” he said.
Mr Cunneen advised cyclists to take note of the serial number unique to each bike underneath the frame near the two gear cables.
He said while experienced thieves may file away or dissolve the number with acid, it can help reunite cyclists with their stolen bikes.