A man in Darlington has been reunited with a bike that was stolen 12 years ago — so long ago he'd completely forgotten about it.
The Northern Echo's Tony Kearney reports that police in Consett, Co Durham found the mountain bike in a load of stolen property recovered in a raid last week.
They tracked down the rightful owner, Paul Wallis, and yesterday returned the bike stolen in 2002.
Inspector Keith Wardle, of Consett Police, said: “We have never returned something which has been stolen quite so long ago, but there is always the possibility that we can trace the owner.
“It was so long ago he had forgotten all about it, but he was over the moon to get it back.”
Other goods recovered in the March 7 raid included a set of rare handmade carving knives, which were also returned to their owner.
Police arrested a 43-year-old on suspicion of possession of stolen goods and firearms offences. He was questioned and released on police bail.
PCSO Mark Rodgers had the challenging task of tracking down the bike’s original owner, by comparing its make, model and colour with police computer records of reported thefts.
PCSO Rodgers said: “As you can imagine it wasn’t a straightforward matter contacting a victim of a crime which happened 12 years ago.
“Despite this, we eventually managed to locate Mr Wallis, who confirmed the bike was the one that was stolen all those years ago. He was delighted to get his bike back”.
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.