Cyclist Paul Jones was finally reunited with his classic Bob Jackson bike a year after it had been stolen in Bristol. And he took a swipe at the Metropolitan Police in the process.
Members of the londonfgss.com forum discovered the ex-Londoner’s £1,400 bike on eBay, and Avon and Somerset Police recovered it the same day, and even delivered it to his home.
Mr Jones told the London Cycling Campaign: “The police response in Bristol was phenomenal, and I was surprised, mainly due to my experiences with London police. They took the matter very seriously. I remain incredibly grateful for the work done by PCs Dave Townsend and Will Thorpe in Bristol.”
Mr Jones knew every detail of his beloved bike, and posted the story on internet forums, which helped the police identify it. He said forums are invaluable resources, with thousands of people who "can spot stolen items a mile off" looking out for rare parts. And some of Bristol’s police regularly sign in to them.
Members of the LFGSS forum, for example, regularly flag up items of interest to each other on eBay and are quick to identify listings that seem dodgy - for example, where the item description displays an ignorance of bike terminology, or the vendor says they will only accept payment in cash at a pre-arranged spot.
PC Frank Simonds, Bristol’s cycle crime reduction officer, told the LCC: “It is a combination of three elements: enforcement targeting offenders, educating the public to protect themselves from theft, and finally, intelligence work.”
Mr Jones said he received little help from eBay in retrieving the bike, while the seller of the bike was not prosecuted, claiming she found it in a skip.
More and more stolen bikes are ending up on the second-hand market and the internet, providing a potential minefield for prospective buyers.
Research indicates that a bike is stolen in the UK every 65 seconds and the boom in cycling has created rich pickings for bike thieves. When buying a second-hand bike, always be sure to ask to meet the vendor face-to-face, see if all the bike parts match, make sure the owner has proof of purchase, and check for security markings on the frame.