Social media apps are believed to be responsible for an increase in high-value bicycle thefts, police say.

The latest hi-tech software allows cyclists to post details of their routes on the internet while out on two-wheels and police think thieves in Dorset are taking advantage.

Police believe thieves are using the apps to track the cyclists to their homes and then steal their bikes.

Sergeant Ady Thompson, of Poole police, is urging cyclists to check their settings on certain cycling apps.

"We have noticed a rise in the number of high value cycles being stolen recently, particularly from the conurbation, which we believe could be linked to people unwittingly leading thieves to their home addresses due to posting information online," he said.

"However, people are still leaving their bikes unlocked when unattended, which makes the theft a low-risk, high-reward crime in the eyes of a criminal.

"We are urging all cyclists to be mindful of the amount of personal information which they share over the internet and how this can be interpreted by criminals, as data isn't just accessible to fellow enthusiasts, but to thieves too.

"Changing the privacy settings on an app will make it hard for would-be thieves to pinpoint where the bike is stored when not in use.

"It takes seconds to do, but can save thousands of pounds, hours of frustration and upset and deny the criminal a 'quick thrill' or a sale."

Since April there have been 481 reports of bicycle thefts across the county, with 124 reports coming from the Poole area alone.

Sgt Thompson added: "The value and quality of the stolen bikes varies, but in Poole, there is an unusually large number of high value bikes taken, worth an average of £600 each, which equates to an approximate financial loss of £74,400 to the community."

Police are encouraging cyclists to get their bikes securely marked, remove bike racks from vehicles when at home and use more than one lock.