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Someone spotted Jenni Morton-Humphreys bike for sale after she posted about theft, so they concocted a plan

A Bristol woman revealed how she ‘stole’ her own bike back from a man who was attempting to sell it on Facebook, despite police advising her not to attempt to retrieve it.

The Cube Axial bike belonging to Jenni Morton-Humphreys was stolen on Sunday 9 April outside the Watershed multi-arts venue in the centre of Bristol, the story receiving attention after a friend of hers blogged about it earlier this month on the LiteLok website.

When she returned to find her bike had been stolen, Jenni reported the theft to police and also posted pictures of her bike to the Bristol Cycling page on Facebook alerting people to look out for it.

Within minutes, it had been spotted for sale on the social network, with a man named Chris sending her a screengrab of the listing that had been put up on Facebook Marketplaces by someone with the user name Bebop.

Jenni and Chris – who were total strangers, there first contact being when he alerted her to the Facebook ad – devised a plan to get the bike back.

Chris got in touch with Bebop and said his sister was looking at buying a bike, and a meeting was arranged for 9am on the Monday morning where Jenni would meet a friend of Bebop’s named Rocksteady to take a look at the bike.

Jenni contacted the police again, who said that while they would be interested in taking the investigation forward, they could not be present on the Monday morning and cautioned her against going along.

Undeterred, she took the day off and headed off to the meet-up point with a friend, Matt, who walked ahead of her so they did not look like they were together.

“I pretended to be interested and asked silly questions about the bike,” she told the Bristol Post of her meeting with Rocksteady.

“I said the saddle was too high, and asked if I could get on it to test it out.

“I made sure I had nothing on me, no possessions at all apart from the stuff in my hands – and they were a cigarette packet and a set of keys.

“I handed them to this guy as I got on the bike and said ‘here, hold my stuff’.

“That meant he let go of the bike for the first time.

“I wobbled off a bit on the bike and then when I was a couple of yards away I just went for it,” she continued. “I pedalled as fast as I could.

“I didn’t look back to see if they were chasing me.

“My main thought was that I was worried because I didn’t really know where I was, where I was going, or the area at all, and I was worried that I might have to go back that way or end up going round in a circle.

“But it was fine because quite soon, I hit a big roundabout and was able to find a different way back to the city centre, so I wasn’t scared at that point,” she added.

According to her friend Matt, Rocksteady appeared dumbfounded at her riding off, until someone shouted “She’s not coming back.”

The cigarette packet was empty but for a broken lighter and though he wouldn’t have known it, the keys were the ones to the lock that had been destroyed when the bike had been stolen the previous day.

Chris subsequently received a message from Bebop, who said: “ur bird has jus rode off on that bike!”

He added: “I need 95 quid lively Chris.”

Chris replied: “She’s probably took it straight home. Not surprised though, because it is her bike that was stolen yesterday.

The exchange concluded: “Lesson to be learned son. Don’t steal from the cycling community for a quick fix. You played yourself.”

Jenni explained that she got her bike back in a better condition than it had been in when it was stolen.

She said: “They had spruced the bike up a bit overnight – they’d even fixed the front light.”

She added: “The police had one of the guy’s numbers, but said they couldn’t do anything because he’d basically said he’d bought it the night before in a pub, so no one was actually brought to justice over it. I’m just glad I got it back.”

Around 2,000 bicycles are reported stolen each year in Bristol and with police resources stretched due to staffing and budget cuts – plus in this case, the uncertainty over who the actual thief was – it is perhaps understandable why not every incident can be fully investigated.

Two years ago, however, they did break up a bike theft ring, making five arrests – but the sad truth is that particularly in a major city, there is not going to be a shortage of candidates to take their place.

> Police in Bristol arrest five following year-long bike theft probe

Here’s road.cc’s Bike Locking Bible to help you avoid falling victim to the thieves:

• Lock your bike to a secure, immovable object. Trees and certain pieces of street furniture don’t make particularly good locking locations; trees’ limbs can be sawed through, and your bike can often be lifted over bollards and signposts.

• Your wheels are the most vulnerable part of your bike. Make sure that your lock goes through both wheels and the frame, or use two locks: one for each wheel. Alternatively you can invest in a locking wheel skewer for your front wheel.

• It doesn’t take long to steal a bike. Make sure that you lock your bike up properly whether you are leaving it for 30 seconds or half an hour.

• Bike lights and other items and accessories that are not secured to your bike are easy pickings for thieves. Take them with you whenever you leave your bike.

• No matter how safe you feel in your home, your bike is still at risk, especially if it’s in your garage or your shed. Lock it up at home like you would if you were on the street.

• Not all bike locks are cheap, but you really do get what you pay for. If you treasure your bike, buying the best locks that you can afford would be a wise investment.

• If you come back to your bike and it's got a mysterious puncture or damage, walk it home. It's probably been marked in the hope that you'll leave it there overnight.

• Consider using a registration service, such as Bike Register, to physically mark your bike with an identifying feature and link it to your identity on the police database. Certain councils and police constabularies offer free solutions, and there are alternatives to Bike Register.

• If it does go missing you must report it. The police will only take bike crime more seriously if they have reason to do so.

• If you're down to one lock, or are particularly worried about the security of your wheel, taking your front wheel with you eliminates half of the risk of theft immediately.

• Use secure bike parking wherever possible. Even for a price, your bike will be far better protected from theft inside a designated secure location rather than on the street, no matter how well you think you’ve locked it up.

• Make sure that you lock your bike up in as public of a place as possible. If you leave it in a secluded location, it will give any would-be thief time to work on your lock undisturbed.

• Make the lock mechanism itself hard to access. For example if you're locking your bike to railings, point the lock mechanism away from the street so it's harder for a thief to attack.

• Don't leave space in your shackle - any extra space gives evil bike stealing tools the room they need to do their dirty work. Don't give them that opportunity.

• If you’ve taken out insurance on your bike don’t buy any old lock. Make sure that the locks that you have purchased are featured on Sold Secure’s approved products list as many insurance companies insist on their use.

• But most importantly, wherever you’re going, please do not forget your lock!

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

19 comments

Avatar
don simon [1515 posts] 4 months ago
4 likes
Quote:

Jenni and Chris – who were total strangers, there first contact being when he alerted her to the Facebook ad – devised a plan to get the bike back.

Sheikh's head.  2
 

Avatar
BarryBianchi [419 posts] 4 months ago
5 likes
don simon wrote:
Quote:

Jenni and Chris – who were total strangers, there first contact being when he alerted her to the Facebook ad – devised a plan to get the bike back.

Sheikh's head.  2
 

They're their, easy now.....

Avatar
STATO [544 posts] 4 months ago
1 like
don simon wrote:
Quote:

Jenni and Chris – who were total strangers, there first contact being when he alerted her to the Facebook ad – devised a plan to get the bike back.

Sheikh's head.  2
 

Whats an Arabs head got to do with this?

 

And when will people stop using cable locks for expensive bikes? Shakes head.

Avatar
simonmb [563 posts] 4 months ago
3 likes

"Around 2,000 bicycles are reported stolen each year in Bristol"

2,000 is a lot. I imagine very few are stolen and kept as a means of tranport. How many bikes are advertised for sale annually in Bristol? I really don't know - but would it be reasonable to assume that if you're offered a econd-hand bike, it's probably a stolen bike?

Avatar
Yorkshire wallet [1562 posts] 4 months ago
3 likes

//www.imghumour.com/assets/Uploads/Calling-Bullshit.jpg)

Avatar
Mungecrundle [866 posts] 4 months ago
1 like

You can't trust anyone these days.

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BehindTheBikesheds [956 posts] 4 months ago
8 likes

So when someone steals a car then x person sells it and the police are aware that the vehicle is stole they'll do nothing? Yeah right.
Stating you bought it from a man down the pub is clearly b/s and
Ignoring handling stolen goods is contemptible. Broken windows right?

Avatar
Rapha Nadal [660 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

I once nicked my own bike back from somebody.  He rode past the bike shop I was working in at the time & then left it unlocked outside a shop!

Police called me on this one as the guy had reported the theft, given a description which matched mine and they'd joined the dots themselves.  Turns out he bought it from a guy in a pub who couldn't be prosecuted as he'd killed himself over the amount of debt he was in.  Quite sad really.

Avatar
BarryBianchi [419 posts] 4 months ago
5 likes

I caught someone trying to steal bits off my bike outside my local swimming pool.  I say "I", it was me and 3 guys I trained with.  As the stupid scrote was crouching down with his back to us mid-theive and was clearly doing/going to do all of our bikes, let's just say I don't think he nicked anything else that evening, or for a while after.  He had a bag with him with half a dozen rear mechs in, and various other bits and bobs.  Scum of the earth.

Avatar
Rich_cb [450 posts] 4 months ago
6 likes

The best thing about this whole story is that Bebop and Rocksteady were two of the villains in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

They may be bike stealing scumbags but at least they have a sense of humour.

Avatar
Penny_Lane_Cyclist [13 posts] 4 months ago
3 likes
Rich_cb wrote:

The best thing about this whole story is that Bebop and Rocksteady were two of the villains in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

They may be bike stealing scumbags but at least they have a sense of humour.

It's clear that Krang is the mastermind behind all these bike thefts.
Not to worry tho - I hear the TMNT are on the case..

Avatar
notfastenough [3728 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes
Rich_cb wrote:

The best thing about this whole story is that Bebop and Rocksteady were two of the villains in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They may be bike stealing scumbags but at least they have a sense of humour.

Indeed.  I was hoping that Jenni rode off while shouting 'Cowabunga, dude!'

Avatar
brooksby [2692 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes

So this story broke as a blog on a bike lock company's website, eh?

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jhsmith87 [37 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

I had my first road bike nicked, stupidly used a cable lock (back in the days when I was a little less wise). Reported it to the police who informed me that unless their was cctv it was be case closed automatically. I set up an alert for Gumtree & also reported it on the Triban owners forum (It was a T500 which had only just come out a month earlier). After a week I got a ping & also a fellow forum member letting me know it was also on ebay. Rang up the police again & the operator hadn't heard of gumtree which was not a great start however I got a call later that day from a detective who advised me to contact the guy, set up a meet & they would wait for me to confirm it was my bike before making a move. They later called to say that was out of date & instead would go themself & get it. They later dropped it off to me. 

 

They didn't nick him as he had bought it off someone else (had texts to show). What did irritate me was this guy was also selling numerous other bikes & on his ebay history he had sold a lot of other electronics/bikes which were all clearly nicked. And the write up for my bike was amusing with quotes like "great condition" - of course it was, it was my pride & joy. One further detail, at one stage the police said they wouldn't be able to do anything to recover it because how could I prove it was mine. The fact it had numerous bits on it which were unique along with the bike numbers matching my receipt convinced them to give it a shot. 

Avatar
Zebulebu [78 posts] 4 months ago
1 like

Pahahaha

Can there be a single person reading this who's credulous enough to believe it actually took place? Loving the sub-Guy RItchie level dialogue in the 'messages'...

Honestly - this sort of 'guerilla' marketing shit is pathetic - it's more obvious than product placement in films!

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Bmblbzzz [168 posts] 4 months ago
1 like

The story might or might not be bullshit but the figure of 2,000 bikes reported stolen each year in Bristol sounds sadly believable. 

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fukawitribe [2037 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
BarryBianchi wrote:

Scum of the earth.

Not really.

Avatar
Yorkshire wallet [1562 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
Zebulebu wrote:

Pahahaha

Can there be a single person reading this who's credulous enough to believe it actually took place? Loving the sub-Guy RItchie level dialogue in the 'messages'...

Honestly - this sort of 'guerilla' marketing shit is pathetic - it's more obvious than product placement in films!

We are now living in the age of fake news clicking circle-jerks. If it's not fake news to market something, it's fake news because somebody just made it up for attention. I bet the police wouldn't know what you were talking about if you queried them on this.

I saw the most ludicrously fake stolen motorbike video on Youtube the other day but yet it had a stupid amount of views. It's all them views, yo.

And just out of interest...where's her facebook page?

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bikeman01 [24 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

"I bought it froma bloke in the pub..."

Says it all - the police these days are a waste of space