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Police told Argus editor Arron Hendy they couldn't help due to higher priority incidents ... but advised him to take matters into his own hands...

Staff at a Brighton & Hove newspaper jumped into action to ‘steal’ back their editor’s bike after it was taken by thieves, with police explaining that they were unable to assist because they were dealing with higher-priority incidents.

The road bike belonging to Argus editor Arron Hendy was one of two stolen from a garage in the South Coast city after thieves broke in and cut the locks, reports the newspaper.

Four days later, he spotted both bikes locked up outside a branch of The Body Shop in Brighton but when he rang Sussex Police, he was told that they were already dealing with 16 “high-risk” incidents – and instead suggested he use bolt-cutters to reclaim the bikes.

What followed is a textbook case study of what to do if your bike has been stolen and you subsequently see it locked up somewhere, but police are unable to assist.

First, secure the bike so the thieves (or whomever they have sold it on to) cannot unlock it, which the newspaper’s reporter Jody Doherty-Cove did by buying a lock from a nearby branch of Decathlon.

Secondly, find a means of breaking the lock already on the bike, which Mr Hendy did with the help of news editor Kim Mayo, the pair buying a pair of bolt-cutters at B&Q.

Mr Hendy said: “I was just walking up North Street and wasn’t looking for my bike but it suddenly caught my eye and I thought ‘that’s my bike’.

“It’s not really worth a great deal but it’s my bike and I was not going to lose it again. I called the police but they couldn’t help,” although he did say that “they were very helpful and gave me advice.”

On the way back to the bikes with the bolt-cutters, they came across some police officers who were handling a demonstration and explained what they were doing in case they aroused suspicion.

“Thankfully we freed the bikes and we now have them back,” he added.

A spokesman for Sussex Police told the Argus: “Calls are assessed on their threat, harm and risk to the member of the public and at that time officers were on higher priority calls.

“The member of the public was advised to call back if he needed assistance should there be a breach of the peace.”

Sergeant James Ward added that the force’s Operation Ensnare, launched in late 2017, had reduced the number of bike thefts in the city and led to a number of arrests, adding that police plan to put more resources into dealing with a recent spike in the number of bicycles stolen in east Brighton.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.