Cyclist ‘forced’ to track down his stolen bike and buy the frame back for £40 after seeing it for sale on Gumtree - despite ‘repeatedly’ asking police to act

A 29-year-old cyclist claims he was forced to track down his stolen bike and buy it back for £40 without its wheels - despite making repeated calls to police to tell them he had seen it advertised on Gumtree and wanted them to act.

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The man, who does not want to be named, said his locked Carrera One bike - which he bought three weeks ago for £325 - was cut from a railing outside his second floor flat near Slateford Road on April 11. A neighbour spotted it for sale on the website three days later and alerted him.

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A family member told the Edinburgh Evening News that the cyclist contacted police immediately after seeing his bike advertised online. Despite two further phone calls to police the next day to say he had obtained an address for the seller in Wester Hailes - and that he feared it could be sold without swift action - the cyclist received no return calls. Later that day he drove to the Wester Hailes address with a pal to get it back after organising to meet the seller.

The locked Carrera One bike - bought three weeks ago for £325 - was cut from a railing outside a second floor flat near Slateford Road on April 11.

On the way, they stopped at a police station near the address and explained the situation to an officer at the entrance and asked if they could come round to assist. The cyclist claims the officer told him not to go near the house because “it’s not worth it.”

The cyclist said he went on to the address and bought his wheeless bike back for £40 and did not tell the seller it was his own stolen bike.

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But after subsequently speaking with staff at Halfords in Hermiston Gait - where he bought the bike - and at a local bike repair shop, he learned it would cost over £300 for new wheels, tyres, disc brakes and repairs.

The family member said: “It’s a total lack of police response. He led the police to the door of it and they did not seem interested.

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The Gumtree advert showing the wheeless bike for sale.

“What is the point in all the money being spent on bike lanes and Spaces for People if you can not own a bike in the city without it being stolen in a matter of weeks?

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“We obviously do not want the same thing happening to other people again.”

Photographs seen by the Evening News confirm the bike frame serial number and the box it came in all match up. The stolen bike was reported to police on April 11.

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Chief Inspector Scott Richardson, local area commander, said: "We can only apologise if the complainers feel that our service on this occasion did not meet their expectations. With regard to the theft of the bike, our enquiries are ongoing.”

Police also made contact with the cyclist on Wednesday.

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A Gumtree spokesperson said: “We do not tolerate the listing of stolen items on our site and were sorry to hear about this individual’s experience.

“We strongly urge anyone who suspects they have found their stolen property listed on the site to contact the police and report it to us using the “report” button that appears next to all ads listed on Gumtree. Our dedicated trust and safety team can then take action, such as removing the ad, blocking the offender from the site and, when necessary, assisting law enforcement to secure convictions.

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“When purchasing a bike on Gumtree, we encourage our users to ask sellers for the frame or registration number which can then be verified through websites such as Bike Register. We are committed to educating people about how to safely purchase a second-hand bike, and safety advice for all Gumtree users can be found on our website.”

Bike thefts rise in lockdown

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At the end of March, it emerged that bike thefts across Scotland rose by nearly a fifth during lockdown, with police warning that organised crime groups are now targeting more expensive models.

Police also launched their national Campaign Pedal Protect at Fettes Police Station in Edinburgh last month to tackle bike crime and raise awareness of bike security.

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In September last year, the Edinburgh Evening News reported that more than 6,400 bikes had been stolen in Edinburgh between April 2017 and the end of August 2020 compared to about 4,400 which were nabbed in Glasgow during this timeframe.

The figures, obtained under freedom of information laws, suggest five bikes a day on average are being stolen in Edinburgh. The figures also showed just one in 13 bike thefts reported in the Capital and one in every 16 in Glasgow were solved.

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Research published on the Scottish Parliament website in 2018 showed 3.6 percent of all trips were made by bike in Edinburgh compared to 1 percent in Glasgow, with the proportion of commuter bike trips in the Capital at 10 percent compared to Glasgow’s 2.4 percent.

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