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Theft happened on Friday in Victoria Park after rider took detour from canal towpath

A London cyclist has spoken of how he was mugged for his Brompton bicycle while riding home through Victoria Park on Friday evening.

Jack, who lives in Leyton, commutes to work along the Regent’s Canal and through the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park.

But works on the canal where the Stratford and Mile End branches meet meant he had to detour through Victoria Park as he headed home on Friday.

He told the website Stolen Ride, which aims to reunite theft victims with their stolen bicycles, that shortly after entering the park, “I felt a hand on my left shoulder, which pulled me sharply to a halt.

“There were three of them on bikes, all with headscarves on, which would suggest they were waiting for someone to come this way alone. They all had male voices.

They took the bike off me and shoved me a bit, shouting for me to give them my bank card. Two of them were shoving me and digging through my pockets.

“The other had his hand in his pocket and was saying ‘I will hurt you, yeah’, and he would then make to remove his hand from the pocket, as if about to draw a weapon (if he did have a weapon, he never drew it).

“I gave my phone over to this third guy, saying ‘ok, ok, my card is in there’. They then shouted ‘what’s your PIN number?’.

“Before I answered, one of them punched me in the face. Somewhat stupidly, I gave them my actual PIN, not having the presence of mind to realise they had no way of checking it without going to a cash machine. I was panicked, and just wanted them to leave, preferably without hitting me again.

“After I had said the number, two of them cycled off towards the entrance of the park I had just used, one of them on my bike (and holding his previous one, I think. Mine was the only bike with lights, so it was basically all I could see).

“The third tried to push me to the floor by tripping me on his leg before he also cycled off. I watched them for a bit, swore a few times, and then ran in the opposite direction towards the illuminated path in the middle of the western half of Victoria Park.”

A passer-by named Matthew lent Jack his phone so he could call the police, his girlfriend, and his bank to cancel his card. He also bought him a drink at a nearby pub and paid for a taxi home. A woman in the park with her child also spoke to him to ensure he was okay.

“It’s wonderful to think that there are such kind people just out and about,” said Jack.

Brompton bikes are attractive to thieves because of their high resale value, although Jack’s has a highly distinctive colour scheme.

“It’s a Brompton M3L (mudguards but no rack) in a wonderfully garish combination of bright cyan and bright green,” he said.

“It had a bag on the front in grey/green (matching green!) which was on my bike at the time, therefore also stolen. It also had lights; the circular ones that are very popular presumably as they’re cheap and well-reviewed on Amazon.

“Previously, I had been using a somewhat less good folding bike, which wasn’t well suited to the cycle to work. I bought the Brompton on Cycle to Work back in June. I think it would be fair to say I loved this bike to bits. I even gave it a stupid nickname: ‘Doodle’.”

Stolen Ride’s founder, Richard Cantle, said: “I talk to victims of bike theft seven days a week. Nothing disturbs me more than hearing about a violent mugging. It’s bad enough as a cyclist having to worry about your bike when you leave it locked up, but it’s another level to have to worry about the risk of bike-jacking.

“I believe in community action and would urge everyone to be extra cautious and vigilant. The target areas for these thefts appear to be centred on parks, quiet roads and canal paths at night. As Jack mentions, be careful but don’t be scared or give up cycling.”

 

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.