TWO paperboy pals are being forced to do their rounds on foot after cruel thieves snatched their bikes.
Excited Michael Barron was looking forward to starting his first-ever shift delivering the news to the people of Horsley Hill.
But his joy at securing the round with D L Newsagents, in Horsley Hill Square, South Shields, was shortlived after his bike was stolen.
The 13-year-old had left it outside the shop, alongside a bike owned by friend Tony Dawson, on Thursday, as they both sorted out their papers.
But when the two Harton Technology College students returned, their bikes had gone. Now, without their BMX cycles to get around, the pair will have to deliver their papers on foot.
Michael’s mum, Karin, said: “I am really devastated for Michael.
“I’m about to start university, and I can’t afford to buy a new bike for him.
“It was going to be his first night, and he was really excited about starting the paper round.
“That has now been ruined by thieves.
“It has left him quite upset.”
Police were called to the paper shop, and CCTV footage was handed over to officers.
Mrs Barron, from Sutton Way, South Shields, added: “Michael had only been in the shop for a matter of minutes, being shown how to sort the papers out by his friend Tony, when both bikes were stolen.
“I just hope the police catch those responsible.”
Acting Neighbourhood Inspector Shaun Connelly said: “Police have been notified of the theft and are checking CCTV in the area.
“We would also like to remind bike owners of the importance of locking up their bikes whenever they are left unattended – even if it is only going to be a few minutes.
“Sadly, this case shows how it only takes a matter of minutes for an opportunist thief to strike.”
Anyone with information about the thefts, which happened at about 2.30pm on Thursday, can contact police on 03456 043 043.