Robber returns bike after being shamed on Facebook

Roy's bike was advertised on Gumtree the day it was stolen, but a cunning plan saw it returned. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Roy's bike was advertised on Gumtree the day it was stolen, but a cunning plan saw it returned. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A resourceful school janitor has been reunited with a beloved bike that was stolen from outside his Edinburgh flat – after a quirky Facebook campaign encouraged the thief to return it voluntarily.

Roy Munro said he was “gutted” when he woke up on Tuesday morning to discover his £1000 pair of wheels had vanished.

Shock turned to amazement when the fluorescent-orange Scott Sub 10 hybrid was ­cheekily put up for sale on Gumtree later that day.

Advertised for less than a quarter of its original value and looking exactly as it did at the time of the theft, there was even a contact telephone number included for interested browsers.

The 36-year-old, a janitor at George Heriots School, said: “It was quite a blow. I’m very attached to that bike – there’s nothing else like it.

“Not many of them were made in the first place and ­production was discontinued after only one year.

“Absolutely nothing about it had changed when it was put on Gumtree – the mud guards, carbon bottle holder, orange handle grips, they were all still on there.”

Mr Munro said police told him he would have to arrange to meet the person posting the ad – while they hid and waited to nab the bike thief.

But he was left back at square one after the seller failed to show up at an agreed meeting place outside the Sainsbury’s supermarket in Saughton.

When the advert reappeared on Gumtree hours later, the social media-loving cyclist decided to take matters into his own hands. After placing his own Gumtree advert in which he warned the bike was stolen, he put the seller’s telephone number on Facebook – along with an instruction to dozens of site users who “liked” the post to bombard the mobile with the words “stolen bike”.

The unorthodox display of people power proved a ­spectacular success.

To Mr Munro’s “amazement”, he received an e-mail within the hour saying the seller wished to return the bike – and was then called at half past midnight yesterday to say it had been parked close to his flat in Spey Terrace. He said: “I jumped out of bed, ran down the street and there it was.

“To be honest, I’m surprised the plan worked at all. I suppose it was the fear factor – I made him think twice about what he was doing.

“There’s no point in burying your head in the sand.

“There are always ways you can get things done yourself. There’s no guarantee they’ll come off but there’s no harm in trying.” Police Scotland ­officers meanwhile said they were still looking into the theft and want anyone with information to contact them.

A spokesman added: “Police in Edinburgh are ­investigating after a bicycle was stolen from a stairwell in Spey Terrace sometime between 11pm on Monday, September 16 and 7am on Tuesday, September 17.

Social media successes

SOCIAL media sites have become increasingly powerful weapons in the hands of ordinary people looking to fight injustice or crime.

Among the most dramatic recent examples emerged in April in the Iranian city of Marivan, when police paraded a convicted criminal dressed in women’s clothing through the streets in accordance with a judge’s sentence.But a local feminist organisation found the sentence humiliating, and organised a Facebook protest featuring the tagline: “Being a woman is not humiliating and should not be considered punishment.”

After garnering 10,000 fans in only a week, the protest prompted politicians to sign a letter calling the punishment “humiliating to Muslim women”.