Couple ‘followed home from Glentress by thieves who took bikes’

Stuart Johnston and Sonia Panchen whose bikes stolen from a garden shed. Pic: Steven Scott Taylor

Stuart Johnston and Sonia Panchen whose bikes stolen from a garden shed. Pic: Steven Scott Taylor

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A COUPLE fear they were followed home from a mountain-biking mecca after thieves raided their shed.

Keen cyclists Stuart Johnston and Sonia Panchen had only just returned from a weekend ride at Glentress when four bikes worth a total of £11,000 were stolen.

Stuart, 52, said he knew something was wrong when he looked on to his back garden in Newington on Monday morning and spotted some of his outdoor furniture out of place.

“I noticed that some of our patio furniture had moved quite neatly into the middle of the garden, which I thought was a bit weird,” he said.

“I’d gone to inspect it and that’s when I spotted the shed door was kind of ajar, even though it has a heavy padlock on it.

“I think whoever broke in managed to get in the gap between the door and kind of lever it open.

“When I looked inside, all four bikes were gone. I was obviously really gutted but a bit shocked too because we live in a terraced house and the only way for them to get in would be over quite a high wall at the bottom of the garden which backs on to our neighbours, so that is a bit of a mystery.”

The bikes, made by California-based company Santa Cruz, were shipped over from the United States by the couple in 2014 after they moved back to Edinburgh from San Francisco where they worked as software developers.

One is a dark grey, 29-inch men’s bike with gold forks and “Santa Cruz” in white letters on the frame, while the other is a white, 29-inch women’s bike with gold forks and “Juliana” in black letters on the lower frame.

Both have a value of around £5000 each, while two older 26-inch Santa Cruz bikes valued at around £500 each were also stolen.

And Stuart, originally from Corstorphine, said he wasn’t ruling out being specifically targeted and doesn’t believe this was just a random act.

“It seems unlikely that it was random because there are houses on both sides and the high wall at the back and another house there as well,” he said.

“We’d been down at Glentress at the weekend and we’d heard from a few people it’s not uncommon for bike thieves to follow cyclists back.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Police in Edinburgh are investigating after a garden shed was broken into and four bicycles were stolen from within.

“Inquiries are ongoing to trace those responsible and recover the bikes, which have an estimated value of £11,000.”

“Anyone with any information should contact police immediately.”

Glentress Forest, which features five mountain-biking routes and other facilities for keen cyclists, is located near Peebles in the Scottish Borders, about 30 miles south of Edinburgh.