West country dealer was victim of "professional, targeted robbery"...

None of the £1/4-million-worth of bikes stolen from outside a hotel near London’s Excel Centre after the London Bike Show have been recovered, but Chris Boon, owner of TriUK still hopes to get them back.

The bikes were inside two vans parked outside the Excel Travelodge on the night of Sunday February 16. The thieves struck in the early hours of Monday morning.

“In the CCTV you can see the guys walking up and pressed a button on a box,” Mr Boon told the Evening Standard. “Within a minute and a half they had driven off at speed. There was no glass-breaking, no hot-wiring, it was a very professional job.”

Both vans were fitted with tracking devices and early reports indicated that at least one of them had been detected.

“I was on the phone to the tracking company first thing on Monday morning, and was told they could see one of the vans was moving,” said Mr Boon. “I got in touch with the police, who then went to the location and I believed them to have found it. But later it was not there and it was said that it might have just been the tracking device.

“As and when a report is written I would hope that would be clarified. Not that that helps me now, because if they did have it and lost it, I’ve lost it either way.”

The haul included bikes from Cannondale, Scott, Giant and Cervelo, with retail values up to £8,000. Chris Boon thinks they will not be easy to offload.

“Some of them were very unique,” he said. “There’s not many people who would buy that style of bike for that kind of money. It will be very hard to get rid of them in the cycling community.”

It’s unclear whether the thieves were after the bikes, or just looking to pick up a couple of Luton vans which could then be broken down for parts.

Detective Sergeant Tony Gambles from Newham CID said: “We think it was a targeted robbery, in so much as the thieves knew the vans had been at the exhibition. I would guess it was pot luck to them what was in there.

“It was a very quick theft and they got round the alarm system somehow. It’s not like in the old days when they’d go in and smash the ignition systems. They go in prepared and they know how to take these vehicles. It’s possible that they don’t know the value of these bikes.”

He confirmed that the tracking devices had been found. “The tracking devices were ripped out of the vehicles soon after the theft and we have recovered those, but not the vehicles.

“We currently have no leads on this and are appealing for any information that will lead to the recovery of the bikes or the vans.”

Whether the thieves were after the bikes or the vans, it’s been a disaster for the popular Yeovil triathlon specialist.

Mr Boon said: “I’m still hopeful we can get it all back. The reward is £100,000 to recover all of it, and even for one bike returned I’ll pay a good percentage of what it’s worth.

“It will take the business at least a year to recover from this.”

The vehicles stolen were white Ford Transit box vans, registrations DY12 FJF and DV61 DJE with ‘Dorset Vehicle Rentals’ in green decals.

ANyone with information should call 101, or the Tri UK store on 01935 414142.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.