WHEN thieves snatched yet another bike from a city stairwell, with no likely suspects in the frame, there was little hope of its owner ever clasping eyes on it again.
That was until Capital BMX bikers turned amateur detectives and traced the stolen ride within three days, employing some unlikely crime-fighting technology.
Semi-pro BMX ace Victor Ory, 21, was left devastated when his £1000 BSD TrailorPark was stolen in the time it took to retrieve a bike lock from his Bellevue flat on Tuesday.
The Napier student, originally from France, who is a sponsored rider back in his home country, thought he would never see it again. But a Facebook appeal by bosses at Transgression Park – an indoor street sports centre at Peffermill – tracked down the missing bike after BMX fans began flagging up possible sightings.
The rallying cry paid off as reports surfaced of a teenager riding the distinctive stolen bike in Bristo Square on Thursday.
John Bailey, 25, who helped build the new Peffermill attraction, immediately raced to the scene and confronted the cyclist.
“I had just got a phone call from a friend who was eating his lunch in Bristo Square near Potterow and saw this kid cycling past on Victor’s bike,” he said.
“I was in my flat and grabbed my bike and rode around the area for an hour hoping the guy would cycle past again.
“Eventually I saw him and caught up with him on South Clerk Street. I explained the situation and he told me he’d bought the bike from a friend for £50. I said that it was stolen property and I’d get the police involved which seemed to put him off pursuing it any further.”
Mr Bailey said no one should underestimate the power of social media – even if all seems lost.
“It’s just so handy for everything isn’t it? For business, social events and even, it seems, finding a stolen bike.”
Speaking from France, Victor Ory praised the efforts of his fellow BMX bikers and said he was relieved to have the bike back.
“I never thought I would get it back,” said Victor. “To be honest, when it was stolen my first reaction was ‘Is it a joke?’.”
“After a short while I realised that it wasn’t and I stayed out in the middle of the street hoping to see the thief.
“Now, I am so glad to know that my friends have tracked it down and I can’t wait to ride my bike with all my friends in Edinburgh.
“The city’s BMX community is just amazing, more than 8O people shared a picture of my bike on Facebook, and all these guys have kept an eye in the street for three days.”
Forbes Howie, 24, marketing manager at Transgression Skate Park said: “I have had my bike stolen before and it’s usually gone forever but it’s amazing that this time around we’ve managed to get it back. The response we had from Facebook was unbelievable and certainly played a huge part in finding Victor’s bike.”