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STOLEN BIKE ALERT: London cyclist tells of how he was mugged for his Brompton

Theft happened on Friday in Victoria Park after rider took detour from canal towpath

A London cyclist has spoken of how he was mugged for his Brompton bicycle while riding home through Victoria Park on Friday evening.

Jack, who lives in Leyton, commutes to work along the Regent’s Canal and through the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park.

But works on the canal where the Stratford and Mile End branches meet meant he had to detour through Victoria Park as he headed home on Friday.

He told the website Stolen Ride, which aims to reunite theft victims with their stolen bicycles, that shortly after entering the park, “I felt a hand on my left shoulder, which pulled me sharply to a halt.

“There were three of them on bikes, all with headscarves on, which would suggest they were waiting for someone to come this way alone. They all had male voices.

They took the bike off me and shoved me a bit, shouting for me to give them my bank card. Two of them were shoving me and digging through my pockets.

“The other had his hand in his pocket and was saying ‘I will hurt you, yeah’, and he would then make to remove his hand from the pocket, as if about to draw a weapon (if he did have a weapon, he never drew it).

“I gave my phone over to this third guy, saying ‘ok, ok, my card is in there’. They then shouted ‘what’s your PIN number?’.

“Before I answered, one of them punched me in the face. Somewhat stupidly, I gave them my actual PIN, not having the presence of mind to realise they had no way of checking it without going to a cash machine. I was panicked, and just wanted them to leave, preferably without hitting me again.

“After I had said the number, two of them cycled off towards the entrance of the park I had just used, one of them on my bike (and holding his previous one, I think. Mine was the only bike with lights, so it was basically all I could see).

“The third tried to push me to the floor by tripping me on his leg before he also cycled off. I watched them for a bit, swore a few times, and then ran in the opposite direction towards the illuminated path in the middle of the western half of Victoria Park.”

A passer-by named Matthew lent Jack his phone so he could call the police, his girlfriend, and his bank to cancel his card. He also bought him a drink at a nearby pub and paid for a taxi home. A woman in the park with her child also spoke to him to ensure he was okay.

“It’s wonderful to think that there are such kind people just out and about,” said Jack.

Brompton bikes are attractive to thieves because of their high resale value, although Jack’s has a highly distinctive colour scheme.

“It’s a Brompton M3L (mudguards but no rack) in a wonderfully garish combination of bright cyan and bright green,” he said.

“It had a bag on the front in grey/green (matching green!) which was on my bike at the time, therefore also stolen. It also had lights; the circular ones that are very popular presumably as they’re cheap and well-reviewed on Amazon.

“Previously, I had been using a somewhat less good folding bike, which wasn’t well suited to the cycle to work. I bought the Brompton on Cycle to Work back in June. I think it would be fair to say I loved this bike to bits. I even gave it a stupid nickname: ‘Doodle’.”

Stolen Ride’s founder, Richard Cantle, said: “I talk to victims of bike theft seven days a week. Nothing disturbs me more than hearing about a violent mugging. It’s bad enough as a cyclist having to worry about your bike when you leave it locked up, but it’s another level to have to worry about the risk of bike-jacking.

“I believe in community action and would urge everyone to be extra cautious and vigilant. The target areas for these thefts appear to be centred on parks, quiet roads and canal paths at night. As Jack mentions, be careful but don’t be scared or give up cycling.”

 

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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8 comments

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Rhl2mcm | 6 years ago
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We should all join a baseball club and then keep a baseball bat with us for self defence if the cops ask what is that for then we can say we play baseball and we r in a club they shouldn't bother us cause this might or might not come in petty crime cause they need to catch terrorist not people with baseball bats so they will leave us be then we can beat the crap out of the maggots who like to steal bikes.

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Thelma Viaduct | 6 years ago
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Jack should really have head butted the largest mugger, the other 2 would have ran away.

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DrG82 replied to Thelma Viaduct | 6 years ago
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Thelma Viaduct wrote:

Jack should really have head butted the largest mugger, the other 2 would have ran away.

Easy to say that from behind the keyboard, not so easy to say that when someone is potentially holding a knife to you.

Not sure what I'd be doing, I'd probably try to leg it, but that would likely be more difficult on a brompton.

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Bikebikebike | 6 years ago
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Hmmm.  This is on my route home, and my Brompton is in very similar colours.  Bit worrying.

But Jack did the right thing and gave them what they wanted.  Better that than end up with a stab wound.

I might take Duncann's advice actually and turn off my lights all the way down the canal, even though it's a bit antisocial for non-muggers.

[Given normal press coverage of cycling if this does ever end up in the wider press, then I imagine Jack will be blamed for not having a full-face mask on to protect himself from the punch.]

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Jem PT | 6 years ago
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Given the high resale values of Bromptons, the thought of being mugged for mine has crossed my mind when I ride it - hence I avoid dark parks, or pedal furiously if I can't avoid them!

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Dnnnnnn | 6 years ago
2 likes

Dreadful.

To anyone who rides through large parks at night (as I sometimes do), turn off your lights before you enter. It's almost never fully dark in urban areas, your eyes adjust to the low light.

Lights give thugs plenty advance warning of your approach, that you're probably alone, and possibly the kind of nice, law-abiding citizen who uses lights  and who may well have a nice bike you won't put up much of a fight for.

 

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Innerlube | 6 years ago
3 likes

Really sorry for your loss. Hope  you get lucky.

Has made me think about my own  commute route home- through Victoria and Olympic parks.

Hmm.

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Municipal Waste | 6 years ago
4 likes

Hopefully it'll be recovered as there really aren't a lot in that colour scheme.

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