Victim of bike theft tweets picture of thieves in the act

Image goes viral but no arrests so far

by Mark Appleton   July 5, 2011  

Bike thieves stealing James Jones Specialized.jpg

There is something quite disturbing about the image above.

The calm, determined way in which two men go about the task of stealing a bike suggests that they regularly carry out this activity. You might even label them “professionals” if such a description did not somehow dignify the activity of bike-thieving.

The picture was taken outside the Alwyne Castle pub on St Pauls Road, Islington London on Saturday by a patron who realized that they were probably witnessing a crime. But having snapped the crooks, by the time the alarm was raised the pair were already making good their escape apparently laughing as they did so. The bike’s owner, James Jones, a 27-year-old television director whose film Landlords from Hell was screened as part of the Channel 4 Dispatches series last night, briefly gave chase before alerting the police.

They attempted to retrieve fingerprints from the crime scene but were unable to do so and consequently, having been shown the image of the thieves by the pub-goer,  James has enlisted the power of Twitter in a bid to identify the criminals and bring them to book.

It’s a strategy that worked for our very own Tony Farrelly who two years ago tweeted via colleague Dave that his bike had been stolen in Bath. The tweet was seen by a former workmate who just 20 minutes later spotted the bike and its liberator in the town centre, and who, being of a certain size and demeanour, promptly relieved the light-fingered miscreant of his ill-gotten gains.

Of course the chances of such an outcome are slim in London where the market for stolen bikes is far bigger. But as the image begins to go viral, the prospect of at least putting names to the faces of the thieves must be increasing. Here’s hoping…


14 user comments

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Is it just me or is it the lock around the seatpost?!

G-bitch's picture

posted by G-bitch [320 posts]
5th July 2011 - 11:19

1 Like

Difficult to tell, but it looks like the U-lock is merely locked around the seat-pin, not the frame??

posted by don_don [149 posts]
5th July 2011 - 11:23


looks like it. Confused

for me - The ride is about adventure, camaraderie and the sense of accomplishment that comes after a long day in the saddle.

Mountain-Nic's picture

posted by Mountain-Nic [119 posts]
5th July 2011 - 11:24

1 Like

my thoughts also. Locking the bike around the seatpost is beyond parody. I often lock my bike casually if I'm going to be nearby or if it's just for a few minutes but you've got to lock it around the frame to give at least some deterrence.

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
5th July 2011 - 11:44


Yes, seems like he may have made a schoolboy error as it appears the thieves are in the process of removing the seatpost to simply bypass the lock. Perhaps when they were re-attaching it to ride away someone might have twigged that they were stealing the bike, but then it was also presumably apparent that they were carrying a screwdriver which could double as a weaepon.

posted by Mark Appleton [554 posts]
5th July 2011 - 12:48


if you zoom into the photo, it is pretty clear that the lock is just on the seatpost, looks like the thieves are just trying to take the seatpost off the frame to do away with the bike.
Theres certainly no excuse for blatant theft, but this was just asking for the bike to be taken....makes you wonder if this was some sort of set-up

posted by scrapper [70 posts]
5th July 2011 - 13:07

1 Like

No offense but why didn't the snapper try to gather a possie and out the bugger's off? I know that's easy to say and he did at least take a snap of the action.

bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [495 posts]
5th July 2011 - 13:18


It sucks no matter how your bicycle is stolen and those two f*ers there are just that, dim-witted f*ers.

However, if you choose to but a chromed and overly shiny fixie/SS that's all the rage with dim-witted f*ers that don't like to pay for them, you gotta be smarter than to just put a lock around the seat post. Especially in a city. Especially in London.

We all have to learn the hard way some times, @James Jones.

posted by Shiny Flu [84 posts]
5th July 2011 - 15:04


Regardless of the owners possible relative foolishness in the way he locked it, (and we've probably all left a bike less than secure "just for a minute", I know I have, it cost me my "racer" as a teenager*)... I'd still like to see the individuals identified and have their fingers broken... oops, small slip, obviously I meant prosecuted... Angry

*on the other hand the mountain bike I had stolen was locked in a drying room, in a private stairwell, with a good quality D lock, sometimes you just can't win.
Bike thieves =scum Angry Angry

posted by smudgegs [15 posts]
5th July 2011 - 22:01

1 Like

I know their names....knob-end and butt-munch. Please hobble the bastards when you catch them.


posted by GIlbertenstein [1 posts]
6th July 2011 - 5:01


Re the 'former workmate' who repatriated Tony Farrelly's bike: well done, but he was on dodgy ground legally. I saw my daughter's stolen mountain bike being ridden through Bristol, followed in my car while my wife phoned the police about the legal, course of action. Police weren't interested in coming out. Me stopping him and taking the bike back would, apparently,end up with ME being charged with something like robbery. Unless I had solid proof that it had been mine and had been stolen, which I didn't.
Another time, before the above, my own front wheel was stolen from outside the Galleries in Bristol. Walking home, I saw the scumbag with my wheel a couple of miles away trying to sell it to passers-by. Stroke of luck. Obviously I immedediately went and shouted at him, snatched it back, said I was going to call the police. He ran. Little did I know that had the police attended, it could have been me in the dock, not him.

posted by bikeylikey [194 posts]
6th July 2011 - 8:27


Surely having recorded the frame serial number could be a first step in proving the bike's yours in case you see it ridden by someone else after being stolen?
Well, numbers can be milled... I know...

ekynoxe's picture

posted by ekynoxe [49 posts]
6th July 2011 - 9:16


Well, the bloke who nicked my bike wasn't going to argue with Warren, he may be the technical editor of Cycling Plus these days, but he's also an ex-repo man and he can be quite er, fierce. He just told the guy it wasn't his, which it obviously wasn't. The thief did try to claim it belonged to him… briefly. Then he dropped the bike and legged it. I'd already reported it stolen and the Police were pretty happy when I told them I'd gotten it back too. I'm pretty sure they had advised me to have a look around central Bath asap as I might spot it. Irony here is that it's the same force as in Bristol where they were much less helpful to you bikeylikey.

No force was used to get the bike back but the thief was confronted and obviously didn't think it worth arguing the toss. My guess is that if you confronted a bike thief and called the police at the same time they might well attend simply to avert the possibility of a disturbance.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
6th July 2011 - 9:52


Shiny Flu wrote:
if you choose to but a chromed and overly shiny fixie/SS that's all the rage with dim-witted f*ers that don't like to pay for them, you gotta be smarter than to just put a lock around the seat post. Especially in a city. Especially in London.

Perhaps some 'how to lock your bike' links would be more constructive e.g.
One for the pedants (4 pages):

It's not just desirable/shiny bikes that are stolen, even BSOs can go walkies.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2416 posts]
6th July 2011 - 11:58