A student in Cambridge whose £400 mountain bike had been stolen the previous day was shocked to see a man riding it in the exact spot where it had been taken from. When challenged, the man ran off, and the owner got his bike back.
The Daily Mail reports that 18-year-old Timour Wielemans from Belgium was working for a punting company in Cambridge when his bike was taken from Bridge Street. The next day, still smarting from having endured a 90-minute walk home the previous night, Wielemans saw the bike being ridden by a young man just 100 metres from the spot where it had been left locked up.
Wielemans, on his final day at work before starting studies at Warwick University, stopped the man and challenged him, but was glad of the support of colleagues who stepped in to help.
"I was on the street selling tickets for the punts then I saw him. I was shocked then I realised I had to do something.
"I just dropped everything and ran after him and stopped the bike and asked him, 'did you steal my bike?'
"He probably didn't expect me to see him. He was about 100 metres from where he stole the bike from. He didn't look too clever but he did look pretty aggressive and quite angry. If my colleagues hadn't turned up he could have hit me."
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire police explained that the suspect fled before a PCSO arrived to take statements.
According to Wielemans, after initially considering that the man could simply have owned the same type of bike, the PCSO appeared to change her mind when she saw one of a number of photos which had been taken.
“She knew who he was and said: ‘Yep, he's a bike thief, that's definitely your bike’.”
In 2010, Cambridge was named the bike theft capital of Britain and while there was a drop in reported thefts from 2,108 in 2012 to 1,984 last year, it remains a major problem. Last year, police officers staged and videoed a series of thefts and criticised the public after finding that the ‘thieves’ were neither challenged nor reported.