Woman who spotted young cyclist's heartfelt letter pleading for thief to return stolen bike crowdfunds replacement

Well-wishers raise £735 for owner Alex - and Rachel Thomas, who set up Just Giving page, managed to track him down

Well-wishers have raised more than £700 online to buy a new bike for a man in Reading who left a note for the thief who had stolen his original bicycle. What’s more, the person who set up a crowdfunding page to raise the funds managed to track down the person the bike was stolen from to break the good news.

The bike was stolen from its owner, who is called Alex, between 3.30pm and 6pm last Sunday 22 January according to a letter left taped to the town-centre location where it had been left, secured with a combination lock.

In the letter, Alex, who had only lived in Reading for a fortnight, explained that he had saved up for a year to buy the bike, a Vertigo Moroto hybrid, and that he was not insured and had no money to buy a replacement.

He asked the thief: “Have you ever thought that you might make people’s day miserable?”

Alex said in his letter that he would return to the place the bike was stolen at 6pm each evening in the hope the thief might return it.

Rachel Thomas spotted the letter and posted a picture of it to Facebook after setting up a Just Giving page to raise money for a new bike for Alex.

Writing on the Just Giving page, Mrs Thomas said:

I went into Reading today (24th January 2017) and saw a note taped to a bike rack.

The note was from "Alex", appealing to the thief that stole their brand new bike.

Alex had worked hard and saved for a new bike, only to have it stolen after a mere week of bicycle ownership.

My husband commutes on his bike every day, I enjoy the occasional trip to town on mine (I'm admittedly a fairweather cyclist!), but I understand the freedom a bike can give- and how amazing life can be when you have your own brand new wheels.

Now I googled the bike that Alex had pictured, and it's a very modest, entry-level bike, sold by Tesco but now out of stock.

I would like to provide Alex with a new, modest bike. With mudguards, and a very secure lock, and also some bike insurance! Bikes also need maintenance- I'd love to be able to buy a bit of maintenance kit too- and a couple of spare inner tubes to fix the inevitable punctures (it's normally me that ends up changing the inner tubes on the family bikes).

I don't want Alex to regret recently moving to Reading- I love my little town. I love the people here, I love the town centre and I love our sense of community. I've been helped out by strangers before, and I'd love Alex to be able to not just see our town on two wheels but feel welcomed by its community.

To that end, I've started this crowdfunder to get Alex a new bike.

I'd really love to hear from anyone able to help offer us a deal on as good a bike we can get for Alex.

To date, 71 people have collectively pledged £735 to help buy a replacement bike.

Once a revised target of £500 had been passed yesterday (to include approximately £60 for a year’s insurance), a post said that any surplus funds would be donated to the Reading Bike Kitchen.

Local bike shop Pankhurst Cycles of Pangbourne, Berkshire, had already offered to provide everything at cost price.

Mrs Thomas, who posted a picture of herself on Facebook with a handwritten sign saying “Looking for Alex (about your bicycle)” confirmed in a separate post this evening that she had found him.

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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