It’s everyone’s worst nightmare.
You return one day to find your bike has been stolen. Then, you spot it for sale on eBay.
What do you do?
- Confront the seller directly?
- Just pay them?
- Contact eBay? Contact the police?
Sometimes miraculous recoveries do happen.
This is the story of how one London cyclist, Stuart, got his bike back.
In the early hours of Thursday 11th of April, Stuart discovered that a thief had cut through two padlock straps on his bike shed. They’d managed to free the bike in the same way as three other bikes in his local area.
Find That Bike along with Bikeshd are two websites that give you an easy way to glance through the listings on online auction websites such as eBay.
The Cannondale Supersix bike was quickly spotted for sale on eBay. The distinctive wheels were easy to spot as they’d been bought to replace the standard wheels that come with the bike. This little customisation was to prove crucial in the recovery.
With the bike listing in hand, he called and emailed the Cycle Task Force.
Time was of the essence and the listing only had two days left.
When he was able to describe the non-standard parts and was able to provide receipts, the police had enough to be able to execute a search warrant on the address that they found.
Fortunately, the bike was there as expected and it was returned to Stuart almost immediately. The thief was apprehended and the police believe there’s a good chance of a prosecution.
- Register your bike
- Non-standard features on your bike make it easier to identify
- Always keep receipts
- If you are in London, contact the Cycle Task Force: firstname.lastname@example.org. They are often better equipped to deal with bike theft.
- Bike sheds are not necessarily as secure as you may be lead to believe. Stuart had his bike locked in a Trimetal bike shed.
This wasn’t the first time..
This wasn’t the first time Stuart had experienced a bike theft and has managed to beat the thieves.
After a bump with a van, Stuart was hailing down a black cab on Victoria Embankment. When he turned round to pickup his bike, his damaged bike had been stolen.
Despite looking away only for a couple of minutes, that’s all it took and his bike was gone.
Three months later, Stuart is cycling along near Clapham South on his replacement bike. Unbelievably, he spots a guy riding his old bike.
His Scott Expert Hardtail mountain bike had a very distinctive paint job and graphics. When he spotted the big dent on the top tube and the replacement hand grips he’d bought, he was certain this was his bike.
He went over to the thief and ran his hand over the top tube to check for the familiar dent.
Confronting the thief, he asked what he was doing with a stolen bike and that he would be getting the police involved. After a short sharp conversation, he told the thief that he wasn’t going anywhere with his bike.
The thief ran off and Stuart got his bike back.
The story proves that if your bike is stolen, there is always hope you can get it back.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.