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French police sting finds suspect linked to hundreds of bike thefts working at Russian Consulate

Investigation reveals that bikes worth total of €100,000 may have been stolen in Strasbourg

A sting operation by French police to help a former mayor of Strasbourg recover his stolen bike resulted in the suspected bike thief being identified as an employee of the city’s Russian Consulate.”

The 40-year-old suspect, who worked as a driver at the consulate, was questioned by police on 14 February but was released after 24 hours in custody, reports France Bleu.

But when officers attempted to interview him a second time, they were told he had returned to Russia for “health reasons.”

Alain Fontanel, a former deputy mayor of the Alsatian city, which has a sizeable diplomatic community due to being one of the two seats of the European Parliament, had spotted his bike for sale through online marketplace Leboncoin.

Police got in touch with the vendor of the Friday 28.1 e-bike, which was being sold for around half its original €3,000 cost, and arranged to meet him close to the Russian Consulate.

The suspect produced a fake receipt with a consular stamp, and officers were able to identify Fontanel’s bike through its serial number, and also recovered three other bikes.

They also identified around 300 adverts on Leboncoin for high-end bikes that had been posted since January last year with a total value of €100,000.

Although the suspect has left France, prosecutors may still proceed with trying the case in absentia.

Simon has been news editor at 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.

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