A mother whose son's bicycle was stolen by a prolific bike thief took the novel approach to catching the guilty party of holding a three-day protest outside his house, featuring signs asking 'Where's my bike, Dave?', after she grew tired of the police's lack of action despite significant evidence.
Fiona Bateman's son was a victim of David Seagar's bike theft spree, the thief seen on a neighbour's CCTV taking the mountain bike. The crime was reported, but Ms Bateman was left exasperated by the fact "not much was happening" with the investigation despite Seagar being repeatedly identified on social media, the Mail reporting officers from Thames Valley Police told her it was "just a bike".
With the support of the 'Spotted Witney Official' Facebook group, where pictures of her protest were shared, Ms Bateman sat outside the 49-year-old's house for three days as members of the group dropped off hot drinks and flowers in support.
[Spotted Witney Official/Facebook]
On Friday, Seagar was convicted at Oxford Crown Court and sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years and dependent on the bike thief completing a drug rehabilitation programme, as well as a 'thinking skills' programme focused on self-control, problem solving and positive relationships.
"A slap on the wrist"
Despite the conviction, Ms Bateman said it was "frustrating" Seagar had escaped with "a slap on the wrist".
"Where are the bikes? How about buying my son a new bike? We can't afford the four, five, six hundred pounds to replace it," she said. "He stole so my son has to now walk. But that's okay, just as long as Dave doesn't feel aggrieved.
"We just think police are overlooking crimes like bike thefts because they are not major crimes — but they really affect our lives. Our son Graeme cannot drive, and without his bike he's now having to borrow his father's bike. The bike was not cheap, the cheapest replacement for his bike we can find is over £400. It really does feel like Dave has just got away with it."
Seager was repeatedly interviewed by police about a number of bike thefts, but in court denied a man seen in CCTV footage was him. It was alleged he used bolt cutters to remove locks and make off with bikes up to the value and in one case in excess of £2,000.
He was ultimately convicted of eight thefts, one of which was from outside a GP surgery, a probation officer reporting he seemed uninterested at his pre-sentencing report interview. The report noted a "sense of entitlement" about the bikes stolen "deliberately and brazenly".
However, in defence, Seager's legal representation claimed his attitude was due to him having his own bike stolen so, because of his mobility issues, he had been left "callous" about taking other people's bikes, a story Ms Bateman labelled "ridiculous".
Last month we reported how a Staffordshire-based mountain biker, who had £45,000 worth of bikes stolen in a burglary at his parents' house, had hired a private investigator to track them down.
Damian Groves was, like Ms Bateman, left frustrated by police inaction, saying he passed on all the information from the private investigator but just repeatedly heard "were the bikes insured?" in reply.
"We're not talking about minor crime here. I've provided the police with all this intel and they've just done nothing. You hand the police all this information, and I don't think it's that the police aren't interested. I just think they haven't got the power and the system is just no good. It has broken me."
Groves' search even saw him drive 1,200 miles to Poland after intel from his private investigator suggested they had been shipped out the country.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.