An 11-year-old boy has been left terrified after a masked man threatened him with a machete and robbed his bicycle in broad daylight, while he was playing in a park in Grimsby, as bikejackings like this become worryingly frequent across the country.
Around 3PM on Monday, 1 May, the boy had been playing at a park on Cope Street opposite the Oxford Street flats and had just unlocked his bike when he felt a man approach him from behind.
The man, thought to be in his twenties, was wearing a skeleton snood and asked the boy to get off his bike. After the boy pleaded him to not take his bike, the man pulled out a machete and threatened him that he would use it if he did not comply.
The victim’s grandmother told Grimsby Live that the incident has left her grandson — who has autism and ADHD — so terrified that he thinks if he leaves the house, the unknown man will be there and will find out where he lives.
She said: “He started walking away from the park and felt someone behind him. The next thing, the man got in front of him and put his hands on the handlebars and said, ‘Get off your bike’.
“He said ‘No, please don't take my bike, please don't take my bike’, and he pulled out a machete and threatened him, then took his bike.”
After the incident, the boy went home and told his grandmother that he “didn’t know what to do”, and he “begged him and begged him”. The bike stolen off the boy is a distinct baby blue and orange colour and cost £600.
“He won't go out, he's terrified because he thinks this person is going to find where he lives. He's got ADHD and autism so that makes it worse, he's more vulnerable than other kids his age. This morning was the first time he went back to school, but he was terrified he was going to see him,” said the grandmother.
Humberside Police reported that the man approached a group of children on Cope Street and threatened the boy with a knife before stealing a bike and making off. Inspector Darren Critten said: “I understand incidents of this nature is likely to cause concern amongst the community.
“Whilst our investigation continues, the community can expect to see officers continuing to patrol in and around the area, offering reassurance to local residents and the public whilst conducting lines of enquiry.”
The inspector added that the suspect was described as “wearing a dark coloured hoodie and a puffer jacket”. He was also thought to be wearing a “skeleton snood which covered his face”.
This latest incident from Grimsby marks a concerning trend of the rising number of brutal bikejackings across the country.
Just a little over two weeks ago, road.cc reported a cyclist was battered with a metal bar by knife-wielding masked teenagers in a nature reserve near Birmingham, leaving the cyclist with two broken fingers after he tried to protect his newly purchased bike.
In March, a 73-year old cyclist had to play dead to get rid of four muggers who drove a scooter on his chest after shoving him off his bike near Epping Forest on the River Lea towpath. A month before that, a cyclist was knocked off his bike and threatened with a knife as he was riding home from his work in an East London park.
And in December, three masked men armed with machetes assaulted a cyclist, stealing his bike and phone in Bristol, less than a month after a group of youths attempted to rob a woman of her bike and handbag in the city.
What’s even more alarming is that these incidents seem to take place in broad daylight and in the midst of public spaces used frequently by cyclists for commute or leisure rides. Richmond Park in London is another site which is routinely used by many cyclists, but has fallen prey to “moped gangs” and “machete-wielding” men.
In October 2021, a cyclist in Richmond Park was reported to be assaulted by two men, one with a machete. Both were pictured carrying the road bike on the back of a moped, with the officers unable to trace the offenders after arriving at the scene.
On the same night, there were reports of another bike-jacking just outside a school next to Richmond Park at 5pm. And just a day ago, a gang of thieves on mopeds stole six bikes from a home in southwest London in the morning — including a time trial bike which hours earlier had been ridden by its owner to win the junior men’s national closed circuit time trial championship.
Besides, just a couple of days before these incidents, Alpecin-Fenix’s professional cyclist Alexandar Richardson was robbed of his bike by the Richmond Park machete gang. The assaulters knocked him off his bike, dragged him along for 100 metres, then threatened him with a machete as they stole it.
The 31-year-old, who had days before the incident had participated in the Belgian one-day race Binche-Chimay-Binche, was on a training ride when he was targeted by the thieves. The offender, who was 15-years-old at the time of the bikejacking, was caught and recently sentenced to 12 months in prison.
After receiving the report of this week’s robbery in Grimsby, Humberside Police are appealing witnesses to come forward.
Inspector Critten said: “If you think you may have been in the area around this time or have any information that may assist with our enquiries, please contact us on our non-emergency number 101 quoting log 316 of 1 May.
“Alternatively, you can call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after completing his masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He also covers local and national politics for Voice Wales, and sometimes writes about science, tech and the environment. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him riding his bike on the scenic routes, fighting his urge to stop pedalling and click photographs (apparently not because he's bonking).