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Japanese bike thief auctions bikes before stealing from bike mag editor

Thief took photos, sold bikes, then helped himself

Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department has uncovered perhaps the world’s most sophisticated bike theft. The so-far-unapprehended thief had offered the bikes for auction and made the sale even before taking the bikes.

According to Japan Daily Press the police said that it was apparent the thief photographed the bikes, offered them for auction and then stole them after they’d found buyers.

The bikes were taken from Hiroshi Tamura – editor-in-chief of a local bicycle magazine – in Toshima Ward, Tokyo, on June 17. They were stored in the parking area of his house.

Around midnight on June 17, Tamura’s wife called the police after noticing a suspicious figure outside the house. Police found three bikes had been stolen, and when Tamura checked the parking area at 7am the next morning, he found another six were missing.


The stolen bikes are valued at around 2.2 million yen in total (around £15,000) and include a Japanese-made touring bike worth 700,000 yen (around £4,500) and a US-made bike worth about 300,000 yen (£2,000)

Tamura’s parking area faced the road, but his bikes were hidden by vinyl sheets and cardboard. “I didn’t think someone looking from the outside would know that they are expensive bicycles,” he said. “They might have been seen when I was cleaning them in front of my house.”

The investigation found that six of Tamura’s bikes – four of the stolen ones and two that he had moved into the house – had been offered for auction on June 1. The auctions included photos and all six had sold.

Police are investigating the seller’s details. He had offered bikes for sale in the past and police believe they may also have been stolen.

A senior police investigator said: “I’ve never seen a case in which products were auctioned before being stolen. We assume the perpetrator came to the crime scene at least three times. So it’s highly likely there are still clues at the site.”

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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Puncheur-David | 10 years ago

Although obviously of high public (well, cyclist) interest, I'm never sure things like this need to be made quite so public, I appreciate it may make people more careful about their bikes security, but surely it just promotes the idea to any lowlife who hadn't thought of it themselves, prompting potential for copycat crimes over here. I mean this forum is fully public afterall.

Zermattjohn | 10 years ago

"Tamura’s parking area faced the road, but his bikes were hidden by vinyl sheets and cardboard." I don't think my insurance company would feel that was adequate security!

kiwiglider | 10 years ago

Bike theft + investigation - 3 words rarely found together in the UK.

timothy | 10 years ago

The thief needs to be found soon, there are a number of other rewarding postions at several UK banks

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