A couple from Wrexham have avoided jail despite their involvement in a sophisticated operation where bikes were disguised and then sold within weeks of being stolen. Bicycles to the value of £20,000 were said to have passed through the hands of Patryke Pawel Pudlo and Urszula Barbara Skotnicka over a 12-month period, the pair collecting bikes from London before selling them via eBay.
Anna Pope, prosecuting, told Mold Crown Court how bikes had been taken from London, Suffolk and Sussex. News North Wales reports that parts such as wheels would be changed on some so that the owners would not recognise them. Pudlo and Skotnicka would then pretend to be the owners when buyers came to collect.
Bikes taken included a Specialized Roubaix bike valued at £2,000, a Pearson Lighter Than Air model valued at £3,000 and a Storck Fenomalist frame estimated to be worth £2,400.
Pudlo pleaded guilty to 10 charges of handling stolen goods and received a 21-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 300 hours’ unpaid work. Skotnika denied five charges of handling stolen goods, but was convicted at an earlier trial. She received a 14-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, with 200 hours’ unpaid work. They must also pay compensation of £4,160.
Judge Niclas Parry said that bike theft was reaching ‘epidemic proportions’ in the UK.
“This was professional theft and you were close to the original offender,” he told Pudlo. “By your own admission it was greed, not financial need.”
The judge did however take into account Pudlo’s guilty plea and also made reference to the financial support he gave his sister back home in Poland, saying that her continued treatment for serious illness depended to an extent on the monthly financial support he was providing.
He accepted Skotnicka had a lesser role under the influence of her partner but said she had been foolish to have a trial in the face of overwhelming evidence.
In July, A soldier found his stolen bike for sale on eBay and after arranging to meet the seller, discovered that he was a non-commissioned officer from his own barracks. The soldier subsequently reported him to the Royal Military Police, who made an arrest.