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West Oxfordshire town’s residents take on suspected bike thief

Facebook posts from people in Witney also aim to force police to tackle problem

Redsidents of a West Oxfordshire town have taken to social media to take on bike thieves following a spate of thefts there in recent months.

Posts from people living in Witney are also aimed at forcing Thames Valley Police to tackle the problem.

A photo from one woman whose son’s bike was stolen showing a sign with the caption, “Where’s My Bike, Dave?” has received hundreds of likes on the Spotted Witney Official group.

The Dave referred to is the suspected thief behind a number of thefts of bicycles in the town as well as in nearby Carterton, close to the RAF Brize Norton base, and is said to be well-known locally due to his having a number of convictions for theft.

The sign was shown for three days in Witney, which lends its name to the constituency former held by ex-Prime Minister David Cameron, from Friday to Monday.

Fiona Bateman, who made it, said that “The police are actually on the lookout for him so they'll catch up with him eventually.”

One Facebook user said in reply: “Well they just need to leave a bike and wait for him to nick it. Maybe he's gone underground after being exposed.”

Another said: “The police repeatedly ‘do something’ about Dave, he gets put away for a few weeks by the court and then carries on. Been happening for years. It's the court you should reprimand.”

Meanwhile another Facebook user has set up an email address, stolenbikesofwitney [at] gmail.com, to which people can report bike thefts in the town.

He published the email address on the Spotted Witney Official page where he soon received a number of replies from other users about their bikes that had been stolen.

He told the Oxford Mail: “My email has only been running 24 hours and I’ve had details of four bike thefts – three outside Sainsbury’s Witney and one outside Tesco Witney.”

He was subsequently notified of a fifth theft.

“I am collecting information about these crimes – details of where and the time and if it has been reported to the police and action taken and if CCTV was available or witnesses,” he added.

“Once I have more information I wish to challenge the police. Also if someone has a bike stolen, with this information they might be able to get their bike back on the night of the theft.”

Thames Valley Police said that of the five specific thefts mentioned, four had been reported, with one bike recovered. The other three cases have been closed pending further information coming to light.

In a statement, the force said: “Thames Valley Police take all reports of this crime type seriously and will investigate when such reports are made.

“Local officers also conduct bike marking events for the public, details of which can be found on our social media channels before they take place.”

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.

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