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Cyclist who took driver’s keys from car ignition reveals what really happened

Rider handed keys into police station straight after incident last month sparked by ultra-close pass – Sussex Police confirm case is closed

The cyclist who was the subject of a police appeal we reported on yesterday after taking the keys from the ignition of a car in Sussex has got in touch to clarify what really happened – including that he handed them into a police station immediately afterwards.

The incident happened on the afternoon of Saturday 17 July at the junction of Boundary Road and New Church Road in Portslade, between Hove and Shoreham-by-Sea, with police subsequently releasing a picture of the cyclist they wished to speak to in relation to it – the only problem being that he had already made himself known to them.

Local press outlets including the Argus covered the appeal earlier this week, with Sussex Police subsequently confirming that the cyclist, reportedly suspected of theft  had come forward – although it transpires that he did so on the day of the incident itself, and Sussex Police have confirmed no action will be taken against him.

The rider, Alexander, told “The case is closed because I didn’t commit theft, because I handed the keys into the police on the same day, and I gave them my details on the same day. So it's just a disconnect between the two departments.

“The police have updated that I haven't done any wrongdoing and that no action would be taken against me.”

Under the Theft Act 1968, “A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it.”

However, as Alexander points out, “I haven't committed theft because I didn’t intend to permanently deprive him of any property, I took the keys straight to the police station."

As a side note, the fact he handed the keys straight into a police station, rather than throwing them down the nearest drain – tempting as some may find that in the circumstances – is an important one to make, given the legal definition of theft.

Car keys and drain (copyright John Stevenson)

“I don't intend on making a habit of this,” Alexander continued. “The entire episode has not been fun in the slightest.”

In our report yesterday, we mentioned that what was not known was what might have preceded his decision to take the keys, something Alexander has now clarified.

“The reason I took his keys was that he buzzed me at 5cm, and when I asked whether he thought he could intimidate people on the road, he said ‘yes’. That's what tipped me over the edge,” he explained.

Alexander told us that he has recently returned from spending six months in The Netherlands – The Hague, to be precise – so unsurprisingly, the behaviour of some motorists here compared to their Dutch counterparts comes as something of a culture shock.

“I could ride from one side of the country to the other without thinking about this for a second and now I’m back in the UK this kind of driving is a regular occurrence and I hate it,” he added.

Simon joined 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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