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Power of social media helps cyclist gets bike stolen in London back... from Barcelona

Bike spotted for sale by cycling sleuth in Spain who'd noticed tweet on @StolenRide...

A London man whose bike was stolen last year has been reunited with it through the power of social media – after someone spotted it for sale in Spain, believed to be a destination for many bikes taken in London.

Islington resident James Vernon’s Parlee Z1 was stolen from his flat. Parlee Z1s are exotic enough to stand out from the crowd, but this one was rarer still in that it was a single speed belt drive version but despite James posting details of it online and asking around local bike shops, the trail went cold.

But in October last year, four months after he had tweeted @StolenRide about the theft, he received a reply to that message, asking him to get in touch.



The tweet was from Armand Paul Kabarec-Quiroz, and it wasn’t the first time he’d played a hand in reuniting a rider with a bike that had been stolen, having previously helped a friend get their Cinelli back after seeing it for sale online.

Of that episode, he said: “The Cinelli pops out for sale, I manage to get the guy’s info and tell him that the bike was stolen and that the Police in London, Italy and Spain were looking for it.

“He then gave up the bike to the Zaragoza Police and I got the bike back for Paolo [his friend and the owner of the bike] at the Red Hook Crit Barcelona.”

Later, he’d see the same vendor offering James Vernon’s bike for sale, as he explains.

“After I got back from the Red Hook Crit Milan, looking thought the same buy-sell Facebook page, I saw that the same guy was selling a high end Parlee Z1 for €1,700 and claiming it was new. Didn't look right.”

That’s when he spotted the tweet that James had sent to @StolenRide.

“I knew it was his bike, [there are] not that many Parlee with a single speed and with a belt for the drive system. It was clear it was also stolen in the UK like the Cinelli and that the same guy was selling it.

“It had to be James. And I basically told the guy again the same as when I contacted him for the Cinelli.

“In a couple of hours he sent me a message that he was going to bring the bike in Monday morning. And he did!”

Despite helpful police officers both in Spain and at the Met, due to ongoing legal proceedings it still took several months for the bike to make its way back to its owner, who has now picked it up in Barcelona and brought it home.

@StolenBike founder Richard Cantle said: “I could not be happier for James and am thankful for the work that Armand put into making this possible.

“It really shows how unique and strong the cycling community is around the world and the true connecting power of social media. This is not the first time we have received positive news.

“I’m proud of every person that makes up the @StolenRide community; retweeting stolen bikes can truly spread the word quickly around thousands of people.

“I urge cyclists to never give up the search if their bike is stolen and to keep battling the ever growing issue of bike theft; together we can make a difference!”

And as for amateur sleuth Armand? Well, right now he is trying to get another bike stolen in London back to its rightful owner, this time a Canyon road bike.

Simon has been news editor at 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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