The phenomenon of bicycle thefts in Tel Aviv is growing - and the thieves are becoming bolder, according to the Hebrew weekly Yediot Tel Aviv. In recent weeks, bicycle thieves have gone from cutting through locks on parked bicycles to uprooting and stealing trees and road signs just to get to the bicycles chained to them. The thefts are worrying thousands of bicycle owners, who are finding that there seems to be no secure place to park their bicycles, and that the police seem helpless to stop the phenomenon. According to the report, thieves recently stole a bicycle - and the road sign to which it had been chained - from the busy corner of King George and Dizengoff streets one night. The owner said she had been sure the bicycle would be safe overnight at such a busy intersection. In another theft elsewhere in the city, a tree was uprooted and both it and the bicycle that had been chained to it were taken. Some residents complained of having a series of bicycles stolen, sometimes in broad daylight. In many cases, bicycle owners said they had no choice but to carry their bicycles up several flights of stairs to their apartments. The report said that while in the past bicycle thieves were mainly drug addicts, now they are mostly professional gangs who scout the city and arrive at targets armed with metal-cutting equipment and an empty truck. Some expensive bicycles have license numbers on them, but these identifying signs are quickly repainted and the bicycles are resold cheaply at stores in south Tel Aviv. The report noted the municipality should be worried because it officially wants to encourage bicycle use, but the thefts are causing many victims to give up on the idea. The newspaper also wrote that police have not made the issue a priority. A senior district police officer said that all policemen know of the phenomenon, but "prefer to put their hands over their eyes," because it is not as "sexy" as catching large criminal gangs or making drug busts. The officer said the thefts should be treated as a national priority. But a Tel Aviv police officer denied that his colleagues were apathetic, saying that local police officers regard bicycle thefts as seriously as any other crime, and are making great efforts to capture the thieves.