A BRAZEN thief stole a customer’s bike, worth thousands of pounds, from a popular shop...while the owner was just a few metres away.

A man entered JD Cycles, in London Road, Benfleet and stole the Giant Defy bike. Jason White, 46, owner of the business, said this is the first time a theft has occurred at his store in more than two decades of trading.

Police have confirmed officers are looking for a man who entered the store and stole the bike. They are very keen to talk with the man pictured in the CCTV still.

Mr White recalled: “I had the back door of the shop open and a man walked through the open gate at the back of my shop and through the back door into the workshop, where the bike was.

“I was literally just a few metres from them but didn’t hear anything. This thief simply wheeled the bike out the way they’d come in.”

Mr White has given the shop’s CCTV to police. Officers want to speak with the man wearing a distinctive T-shirt with a cartoon face on the front, who was carrying a grey Adidas hoodie over his left arm.

Meanwhile, Mr White told how the CCTV shows a man wheeling the bike away from the rear of the shop, wearing a hoodie.

The bike is a black and white-coloured, Giant Defy, complete with Shimano gears and unusual Look Keo pedals and the size of the frame is 58cm.

Mr White said he has been forced to pay out £800 to replace the customer’s bike. He said: “In 21 years, this has never happened – in a matter of moments, he took the bike from right under my nose. I can’t believe the guy’s nerve and, of course, I’m really annoyed with myself. The bike’s owner has been very good about it and I’ve given him one of my bikes to keep him riding while we try and track down the thief and the stolen bike.

“I am annoyed at myself and frustrated about what has happened.

“It will be hard to replace the money I’ve had to spend to replace the bike.”

A spokesman for Essex Police: “We’d like to talk to the man in the CCTV. We received a report at around 2.20pm on Friday, August 30, about a burglary at JD Cycles in London Road, Benfleet. We received information that a man entered the back of the shop and took a bike worth a four-figure sum.”

Anyone with information can call on 101, quoting crime reference 42/139088/19