Bike owner turns amateur sleuth to trap thief

David Livey saw his stolen bike for sale so arranged to meet the seller. Picture: Toby Williams

David Livey saw his stolen bike for sale so arranged to meet the seller. Picture: Toby Williams

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A SHREWD cyclist has been reunited with his stolen bike by duping a dopey criminal into meeting him before calmly tipping off the police.

Amateur sleuth David Livey spotted his £500 racer being advertised via an online sales site just days after it was pinched from outside Leith Victoria Swim Centre last week.

The cunning 27-year-old then arranged a rendezvous with the seller to test ride the Specialized Allez road bike – before pedalling up to a nearby police officer and exposing the crook.

His investigation – which Mr Livey described as “like a sitcom” – has caused a stir on microblogging site Twitter, turning the SNP researcher at the Scottish Parliament into a mini-sensation.

After charting his exploits online, he received a flood of responses with people insisting it had “made their day” while his original post was “favourited” more than 600 times and gained 700 retweets. Mr Livey told how friends distracted the brazen salesman, who was hawking the bike for £360, while he cycled up to a beat officer on Holyrood Road.

“It’s a happy ending,” he said.

“The police were fantastic. I just couldn’t believe it when he asked if I wanted a go on it – the guy was then caught red-handed.

“He asked me if I wanted to try it out, so I cycled down the street, stopped at the policeman and that was that.

“He went and arrested him – it was like being in a sitcom.”

And he added: “I am just delighted there was an opportunity to get it back.”

Police Scotland confirmed the maverick detective work on Holyrood Road but warned others in a similar position not to follow Mr Livey’s gung-ho example.

Cycling campaigner Alex Robertson said it was heartening to hear Mr Livey’s story and stressed there was a growing trend in Edinburgh to help reunite owners with stolen bikes.

He said: “That kind of thing is quite common in America. It’s less so here, because people have realised [an online sales site like] Gumtree is a stupid place to sell stolen goods.”

Mr Robertson, who is part of the Pedal on Parliament movement, urged bike owners to take extra steps to secure their property, by using wheel locks and investing in a strong padlock.

He added: “One of the biggest issues in Edinburgh is that there’s still a lack of places to lock your bikes.”

A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “Police can confirm that a 26-year-old man has been charged with reset [handling stolen goods] following an incident on Holyrood Road on Wednesday.

“A report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.”

Officers have also issued fresh advice to people who have had goods stolen, advising that people should contact Police Scotland on 101 or visit their local station.

The spokesman added: “Similarly, if anyone sees their items subsequently being sold online then our advice would be to contact Police Scotland.”

It is understood an investigation is ongoing to trace the thieves who stole Mr Livey’s bike.

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com