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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.

£15,000

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.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.