A Maidstone hoarder has become a celebrity after the giant mound of bicycles in his front garden drew the attention of the local authority.
David Watts’ mammoth collection hit the headlines last week after Maidstone Borough Council received complaints that it is an eyesore and causes parking problems.
But his unusual hoard has also caught the eye of bike thieves, who are stealing them at a faster rate than he can sell them.
Mr Watts, 73, said: “Since the article people have come to my door and asked about the bikes. One man even asked for my autograph.
"Most people are on my side. A complete stranger drove past the other day and shouted out of his car window ‘good on you, mate, keep it up!’"
But as many as three have been stolen by opportunist thieves in the past week alone, and a total of 20 so far this year.
The retired driving instructor, who says his collection is "just a hobby that has got out of hand", started storing the bikes in trailers on the road outside his Muir Road home.
The grandfather of four, who is a full-time carer to his wife, Maureen, 71, has run a second hand goods and repairs business from the property on the corner of Old Tovil Road since 1971 and insists the cycles are to be sold, repaired or used as parts.
But residents say the scale of the heap has spiralled out of control in recent months and Mr Watts has admitted that they are currently being stolen at a faster rate than he is selling them.
He said: “I have become very selective in the last month and only taken really good bikes.”
A Kent Police spokesman said: “We are pursuing various lines of inquiry in relation to recent reports of theft from the property.”
Mr Watts says that one neighbour has built a large fence outside his property to block out the unsightly pile but insists he has done nothing wrong.
A Maidstone Borough Council spokesman said: “The planning enforcement team is looking at what can be done about the property using our powers under section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act.”
The act allows the council to serve an ‘untidy site’ notice if land is negatively affecting the appearance of an area and to pursue legal action if it is not cleared up.