Merseyside man gets stolen bike back... after spotting it for sale in Cash Converters shop window
Have you been lucky enough to be reunited with your pride and joy after it was stolen? Share your stories in the comments
A Merseyside man whose £700 road bike was stolen in September got it back when he spotted it weeks later for sale in the window of a branch of pawnbrokers and second-hand goods retailer, Cash Converters.
The bike, belonging to Merseytravel train driver Graeme Porterfield, had been stolen from his locked garden shed, reports the Southport Visiter.
"I reported it straight to the police and to my insurance," he told the newspaper.
"Since then I have double locked my back gate and shed and we are now getting an alarm installed because I have two young children and they are a bit scared.
"It is not a nice thing to have happened to us," he added.
The Southport Visiter said that Mr Porterfield discovered his bike when he decided to have a look in Cash Converters on a trip to the shops to collect his wife's mobile phone, which had been in for repair.
"I thought ‘That's my bike’, it was really quite surreal," he explained. "I went in and notified staff member, Phill Bentsey, that the bike in the window was very similar to the one I had stolen.
"They told me that they had just brought it in and advised me to contact the police."
Staff removed the bicycle from sale, with Dave White of Birkdale Cycles, which had sold it to Mr Porterfield, able to give the shop a detailed description that satisfied Cash Converters that he was the rightful owner.
"Cash Converters have been absolutely superb," said Mr Porterfield. "I understand that they had various procedures to go through but they were very professional.
"They took it out of the window and kept my bike in the back until they could be confirmed that it was mine. And by 11:30am on Saturday morning I had my bike back."
In the section of its terms and conditions dealing with selling goods to it, the company says: “At Cash Converters we have a legal obligation to avoid inadvertently buying stolen or defrauded goods from our Customers,” and that to help prevent that “we employ at store level a strict implementation of the CCUK National ID Policy, which will be adhered to on every transaction.”
Phill Bentsey of Cash Converters commented: "It is quite rare that these type of things happen, especially for a customer to see it in the window.
"We lost out on the £160 we paid for the bike, but we got a good result all round, we did everything we could to ensure the owner got his bike back.
"Given the nature of our shop we are very open with the police, who check the serial numbers of games consoles and other items against their files regularly."
Have you ever recovered your bike after it’s been stolen? Let us know your stories in the comments below. Here’s mine to get you started.
We hadn’t planned to go to Brick Lane market in East London that Sunday afternoon. But we hadn’t planned to get our bikes stolen either.
We’d spent a pleasant morning cycling along the canal and turned off at Broadway Market for a quick drink. There was nowhere to park our bikes outside the pub, but there was somewhere we could leave them within sight 50 yards away. We secured both with a cable lock, Not the best, but not the cheapest either.
It took a matter of seconds for the bikes to be stolen. I looked over, they were there. I looked back moments later, they weren’t. Running to the corner where we’d left them, I saw two things; the cable lock, cut clean through, and a van disappearing up the road.
Disconsolate, we prepared to head home – by public transport. I was upset enough about losing my bike, but the loss of my wife’s was worse for sentimental reasons. I’d bought it for her birthday the first year we were together – that, she told me later, was when she realised I wanted her around for keeps.
We weren’t local, but we bumped into a friend who was, who advised us to hotfoot it down to Brick Lane. “You never know,” he said, trying his best to sound convincing.
We went anyway, and rather improbably, the moment we arrived, just as we were deciding where exactly to head, a chap walked into us, wheeling my wife's bike. We asked him to stop and explained it had been stolen less than an hour earlier.
He wasn't happy. He tried telling us that since he'd bought it in good faith, it was his. He asked us to prove it was my wife's - she pointed to the stickers with her initials on the top tube.
He told us he'd only bought it because his daughter's bike had been stolen, and he wanted to get her a replacement. He protested that he should at least get back the money he'd paid for it.
"Fine," I said, dialling on my phone. "Let's get the police to sort it out." The operator said someone would be with us within minutes.
A small crowd had formed. Some of them seemed to know the guy with the bike. Several were urging him to forget the bike and go. He was insistent though that if he couldn't have the bike, he'd at least wait to see if the police could help him get his thirty-five quid back.
If getting my wife's back was improbable, retrieving mine as well was an outrageous stroke of fortune. Just as I was describing it to an officer, I looked up and saw a guy pedalling towards us on it.
Another officer stepped out in the road and signalled to him to stop. His shoulders sagged. He knew the score.
It turned out to be our good luck that the police were conducting an operation that very day targeting not the bike thieves - they were far too slippery to be caught that easily - but the end consumers of the stolen bike trade.
Send out the message that it's unacceptable to buy a bike you suspect has been stolen, they reasoned, and the thieves would have no-one to sell them to. It's a lesson that has to be reinforced week in, week out to be effective, however.
We all headed back to the station together in a police minibus, which made for an interesting journey. The older man, the one we'd discovered with my wife's bike, told the police his own wife was waiting for him in his car and would be wondering where he was.
So we stopped on a street corner while an officer gave her the bananas her husband had bought and explained where they were taking him and why. The look on her face suggested the police would be the least of his worries.
Meanwhile, the younger guy, the one who minutes before had been riding my bike without a care in the world, was getting an earful from his wife, in Italian. Evidently, she'd warned him about the risks of buying a bike that was clearly stolen.
I'd spent the first year of my degree studying Italian neorealism, and toyed with making the observation, in their own language, that the situation was like something out of a latter-day version of Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves.
I thought better of it, but it would have been worth it to see the look on their faces as they realised their conversation wasn't quite as private as they thought.
Back at the station, we gave our statements. The men who had bought our bikes, we were told, would be charged with handling stolen goods.
We rode off and stopped at a nearby pub. The beer tasted good. And one of us stayed with the bikes at all times.
Still pumped from the unexpected turn of events, it turned into a bit of a celebration. We ended up having to get the train home after all, but we had our bikes with us on the journey.