Electric bikes and scooters are becoming the new vehicle of choice for the criminals on the frontline of Merseyside’s gangland.
High-profile incidents in recent months – including a fatal shooting – have revealed their growing use by gunmen and drug runners.
Thieves have also targeted the vehicles as they grow in popularity among the wider population.
For years, off-road bikes have been seen as the preferred mode of transport for troublemakers.
Fast and agile, illicit scrambler bikers have long-known they can get between – or away from – crime scenes quickly on their bikes.
Able to go down alleys and through parks and fields, they are effective tools to escape pursuit by police officers on foot or in squad cars, with many of the more serious incidents leading to a police helicopter being scrambled to support efforts to track riders down.
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They are also relatively easy to get hold of because of the legitimate market in off-road bikes, with thieves known to target scrambler and quad bikes owned by genuine riders both on Merseyside and further afield.
The lack of registration requirements also made it harder for vehicles to be traced once they had been stolen.
While scrambler bikes remain a cause of frustration and anger to police and members of the public, a growing trend for crimes committed on electric bikes and scooters is emerging as they become more widely available.
They are seen as holding many of the advantages of scrambler bikes, but because they are so much quieter they attract far less attention from potential witnesses.
An added benefit is that electric bikes are legally classed as pedal bikes, so can be used on cycle paths and roads.
Scrambler bikes can only be used on British roads if they have been significantly upgraded, which is rarely the case.
So as well as being quieter, electric bikes blend into everyday life more effectively because the sight of one does not spark immediate concerns of wrongdoing.
Their growing popularity among criminals has been borne out in a series of incidents on Merseyside over recent months.
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Just last weekend two men, both armed with shotguns, burst into a home in Litherland before shooting dead a family dog.
They fled the scene on an electric scooter.
The weekend before, on August 30, shots were fired at a home on Wolfenden Avenue in Bootle.
Police appeals in the aftermath of that incident focused on an electric bike heard in the area at the time.
The most high-profile, and tragic, incident connected to electric bike use is the fatal shooting of Michael Rainsford in Litherland back in April.
The 20-year-old was killed when he was injured when shots were fired at his home.
Detectives said at the time that the shooting was carried out by “offenders believed to be on an electric bike outside”.
Over the summer, police arrested men caught in possession of drugs while riding electric bikes or scooters, while an e-scooter was seized in St Helens earlier this week after a police patrol watched the rider go through a red light and drive around a roundabout the wrong way.