The Metropolitan Police are hunting for an armed robber who had been frustrated in his attempted raid on a betting shop – then fired shots as he made his getaway on a bicycle.
According to the London Evening Standard, the man tried to rob the Holborn branch of Ladbrokes at around 8.30am this morning.
He is said to have threatened staff with a gun as he told them to open the shop’s safe.
But when they told him they had no means of doing so, he ran to neighbouring Lincoln’s Inn Fields where he got an a bike to make his escape.
As he did so, two shots were fired – by accident, police believe.
Inspector Andrew Henthorn commented: “The man was told by staff that they could not open the safe and so he ran out.
“He jumped on a bicycle and headed off down Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
“The shots were heard there and so we have sealed off the area and are searching for clues.”
Police were reported to be unclear whether the shots fired were live rounds, but confirmed that the gun was not being aimed at anyone at the time.
Paralegal George Porter, who works in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, told the newspaper: “We are really shocked that this has happened here in rush hour. It is lucky no one was hurt.
“A colleague heard the shots — it is not exactly what you expect on a Monday morning.”
Police say that the suspect is black and was wearing a balaclava as well as a blue or black hooded anorak, and anyone who has information is asked to call the charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
We regularly come across stories of thieves using bicycles for their getaway, suited as they are to being able to move quickly through an urban setting in places police cars can’t get to.
Two years ago, we reported how a Freedom of Information request by the BBC had even uncovered three instances of Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme bikes being used by muggers to make their escape.
If nothing else, the fact that a Boris Bike can be seen as a viable getaway vehicle is testament to the changing nature of transport choices in London since the scheme's introduction more than three years ago although it is doubtful whether the Mayor or Transport for London will view this latest incident as an endorsement of their ongoing 'cycling revolution'.
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.