Stories - Dude? Where's my bike.
What happens to stolen bikes?
Are they cut up for scrap?
Are they stacked in a shipping container and sent to Eastern Europe as part of a Sopranos style ringing scheme?
Are they re-painted? Stripped for parts?
Or, just simply sold on to unsuspecting buyers?
But let’s focus on that last scenario. Your bike has been stolen so you search online. There are cycling forums, eBay, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and so on. If it’s your bike then you’ll know the spec, that new bar tape you fitted or any other number of small things that just make it yours. And searching online is easy. If you are committed then surely you would find it? But how long would YOU search for?
Back in August 2014 we had a sportive to organise. It was the usual 12-13 hour day with a 5am start. After a successful event we headed home for a few beers and a takeaway. However, nothing quite ruins a day like returning to your house to a cracked front window, destroyed patio door and a couple more windows broken just for good measure.
The whole house had been ransacked and, after taking stock of the situation, I realised one of my bikes was gone. It wasn’t our fault we’d been burgled but I knew better than to leave a bike in the house. Since the early days of Polocini we’d been targeted by thieves. As it was an event weekend I’d left a bike in the house after doing the Saturday route check ride. Pure laziness.
At this point I had a secure unit for cycling kit but if you visited our website you could see all the dates I wouldn’t be around.
I put the pics of the bike online and started to search EVERYWHERE. I had built the bike to my own spec and I’m a shortarse so how many stealth black 48cm Caad10 bikes could possibly be about? I searched and I searched. Then I searched a bit more.
After the day of the break-in I never rode from the house again. I would go to our lock up unit and ride from there. We had anything business related sent or registered to our new office.
The search went on. NOTHING. Where do stolen bikes go? The odd bike online looked a bit under-priced but I didn’t see many dodgy listings and very rarely was there ever a stealth black 48cm Caad 10.
Finally it appeared. It couldn’t be? A 48cm Caad was listed on eBay a few miles from where mine was stolen. It had been on for less than four hours. The wheels and cranks were different but Arundel cages and Syntace finishing kit? The bar tape was also different but the end caps were the same as I’d fitted. My radar was up. I KNEW. But, I had no proof. I contacted the shop where we had bought it from and got the frame number. I went to the Police and was told if the guy selling it didn’t have a receipt then it was mine.
I messaged the seller and played it cool. He wouldn’t let me visit to view. He wouldn’t take a deposit. He wouldn’t exchange numbers.
My radar was off the scale. I really, really fucking knew. But I had no proof. We agreed a price and a meeting place. He messaged when he was 20 minutes away.
The meeting point? A McDonalds car park. I was ready. Mrs. Polocini was parked up filming everything. In drove a nice BMW Estate and outstepped a respectable looking guy in a suit. We said hello and made small talk. PLAY IT COOL. I asked where he had bought it from. "Evans Cycles" he replied. A lie. I could see the serial number. It was mine. PLAY IT FUCKING COOL. I asked about the build. Syntace Finishing Kit? Quality stuff that. Then I pulled out the paperwork from my pocket with the receipt and serial number. His demeanour changed. Now the frame was bought off eBay. Evans Cycles was a mistake. He didn't even need the money for the bike. He had a new one.
"Keep it" he said. I gave him the wheels back and offered to strip the parts that weren’t mine. I offered to get the Police. I pointed across to Mrs. Polocini and explained the whole thing was being filmed.
I said he could keep the bike if he told me where he got it from. He declined and left quickly.
As I walked across to Mrs. Polocini I found a five pound note on the floor. A recovered bike AND a McFlurry? RESULT.
However, it wasn’t really. I’ll never know if the bike was stolen to order or who was making our lives a misery. I contacted the Police but they weren’t interested.
There is one final question I asked earlier that can now be answered. How long would you search for? My answer is FOUR YEARS AND TEN MONTHS. Or 1,754 days searching twice a day across several sales platforms.
There is no moral to this story. Not even a happy ending. But when it comes to sheer bloody-mindedness, resolve and determination cyclists are an odd bunch. And I've ridden the Monte Zoncolan for fun, so a few online searches are no big deal.