20 bikes – some of them specially adapted and worth up to £5,000 each – were stolen last week in a theft from Special Olympics Scotland West cycling HQ in Glasgow, with staff believing that the thieves may have staked out the facility beforehand.
The combined value of the bikes that were taken when the shipping container they were kept in was broken into last Wednesday by thieves using cutting equipment is estimated at £20,000, reports the Daily Record.
The theft happened at Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park, where the Special Olympics Scotland West undertakes weekly training sessions.
According to a post on Facebook, bikes taken included two Kettwiesel tricycles, a Kinesis Racelight, and two Forme hybrids.
“I am absolutely gutted for the athletes,” said coach Janis Malone. “Being part of this is a huge thing for them every week, and we provide a special space for them – where they all feel secure.”
UK Sport funding is provided to many Paralympic sports, but as Malone pointed out, “Special Olympics receives no government funding.
“All events, equipment and training costs are covered by the athletes and coaches. The majority of them aren’t employed, they’re living on benefits.
“Many of them have been bullied a lot in life because of the challenges they face. The feeling that this is their safe place has been tarnished and invaded.
“We are here every Wednesday and the doors are wide open when we take the bikes out. So even somebody casually walking past would see that it’s a container full of bikes.
“It’s a real professional job they’ve done, it has clearly been planned out. they’ve used professional tools to get into the container.”
She said that four of the group’s cyclists took part in the World Summer Games held in Abu Dhabi last year, with the team also winning 11 medals at the National Cycling Competition in Ashton Under Lyne, Greater Manchester.
“We provide opportunities to increase confidence, realise potential, develop physical fitness and mental well-being, demonstrate courage and experience new friendships,” Malone continued.
“It’s been upsetting for us all, parents, athletes and coaches, even for those who didn’t lose a bicycle, because we provide a safe space for our athletes.
“People’s kind words and generous offers of help have helped soften the blow,” she added.
A spokesperson from Police Scotland said: “Officers in Glasgow received reports around 12.25pm on Wednesday, 7 October, of a theft at Bellahouston Sports Centre in Glasgow. Enquiries are ongoing.”
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.