Police say hands tied on stolen bike spotted on Gumtree due to data protection laws

Owner spotted bike on site two weeks ago but officers say they are can't act until warrant secured...

Police in Edinburgh say they are unable to take steps to recover a stolen bike spotted for sale on the website Gumtree until they have managed to ascertain the seller’s identity under data protection laws.

Cyclist Peter Whitehead spotted his mountain bike, worth £450, on sale on the site several hours after it had been stolen from outside a gym at Ocean Terminal in Leith, reports the Daily Record.

According to the newspaper, the bike was still listed for sale for £250 yesterday in the Bonnington district of Edinburgh, although the listing now seems to have disappeared. The  description read: "Nice bike, only a year old, never used. It's a bargain at the price."

But retail manager Mr Whitehead, who says he knows the Whistle Patwin bike is his due to the position of the lock bracket on the frame, has so far had no success in contacting the seller.

He said: "It's very frustrating. I was in a state of shock when I left the gym and got back to the bike shelter to find that my bike was no longer there. Only my bike lock remained and I just stood there, frozen.

"I was really angry and immediately called the police to tell them what had happened. They said that they would look into it, but I haven't seen any movement from them yet.

"I decided to do a little snooping myself. I almost immediately found it on Gumtree and recognised it.

"My girlfriend texted the number late at night. I have since messaged the user and tried to call but haven't been able to get through."

Police officers told Mr Whitehead that under data protection law, they need to secure a warrant before they can approach Gumtree to secure personal details of the vendor.

"The police phoned me on Monday to say there's no further progress,” said Mr Whitehead. “It's very frustrating.”

He continued: "I asked them what they had done with the Gumtree ad, and, because of data protection laws, they are still waiting to hear back. It has been almost two weeks.

"The person listing the bike is has been on the site for more than seven years so they must be a regular and could possibly have stolen many other bikes."

A spokesman for Police Scotland said: "Police in Edinburgh are investigating following the theft of a bike from outside Ocean Terminal.

"The incident happened sometime between 6pm and 6.45pm on Thursday 15th January.

"Enquiries to trace the bike and identify those responsible for this theft are ongoing."

Gumtree warns potential purchasers to be careful when thinking about buying a bicycle through the site, with a pop-up box appearing on searches on the word ‘bicycle’ that links to this page with security tips.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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