A Hertfordshire teenager is said to be ‘stunned’ after police found his £900 BMX bike which had been stolen, but told him that due to an error in paperwork they were unable to reunite him with it.
Harry Hughes, aged 16 and from Wigginton, told Hemel Today: “I got all excited, thinking I was going to get my bike back, then I got told the people who nicked it still had it.”
His custom BMX bike and a friend’s mountain bike had been stolen from Elizabeth Drive in Tring during the early hours of Thursday 3 October.
Later that day, Harry called the non-emergency police number, 101, to report the theft and was put through to Tring police station.
The duty officer he spoke to took down the teenager’s details and promised to get in touch if police discovered the bikes. However, it appears that the officer did not log the report as a crime.
When bikes matching the description Harry had given were discovered by police, the lack of an official record on the police computer system and absence of a crime reference number, meant that police were unable to retrieve them.
“I’m really angry,” Harry reflected. “That person at Tring station needs to go back to police school. I thought they were going to follow standard procedure.”
A spokesman for Hertfordshire Constabulary commented: “We were made aware of a possible theft of two bikes in Tring, but as it was not officially reported to us as a definite crime until after the bikes had been recovered, it was not crimed through our system.
“The investigation is still ongoing and we are doing everything we can to rectify this situation and return the bikes to their rightful owners.”
The circumstances in which police discovered the bikes were not reported, nor is it clear whether they were in the possession of a person who may have taken them from outside the address in Tring.
Police powers to seize and retain property are the subject of Code B of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which places strict limitations on what officers are and are not permitted to do.
In this case, without an official record of the theft of the bicycles, police therefore had no powers to recover them.
Hopefully Harry and his friend will eventually get their bikes back, but in the meantime the moral of the story is that if you do find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to call the police to tell them your own pride and joy has been stolen, make sure you get a crime reference number.
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.