A Hot Bike?
I’m working a bit in Blyth at the moment, and ended up back at the Sustrans office yesterday afternoon. Looking at the setup, I decided that it was time to put the tools onto a shadow board, and after laying them out, realised that I needed some longer screws for the job.
So I hopped on my bike and headed out to Wilkinsons (the we-sell-everything-shop). Crossing the market square, I passed a stall selling a number of second hand bikes. One of them caught my eye… it looked familiar…
I thought it looked remarkably like one of these…
Yep - that’s Scratch Bikes, Newcastle’s considerably lower cost, green-not-Barclays-blue cycle share scheme.
I went around the corner and phoned Scratch to see if perhaps they’d been selling off any of their stock. The answer was no… and could I go and get some details from the guy selling the bike.
So that’s what I did - rode back to the market, locked my bike with it’s frame lock, and took a closer look at the green bike while still on the phone.
You can see that it’s got their logo on the headtube, along with the remains of the the Reelights system. No sign of the mudguards, skirtguard, chainguard or basket, but it’s definitely one of the Scratch Bikes’ bikes.
The [burly] market trader came over and told me that it was £40.
We got into a discussion about it looking like stolen property, and that I was on the phone to the bike’s rightful owner - would he like to talk to them? He said he wouldn’t, that it wasn’t stolen, and it was his to sell. He went to talk to another trader, who after a minute or two’s discussion then also came over with a third. He’d apparently sold the bike to trader #1, having first bought it from the guy at the dump. And they all insisted anything you buy from the dump is yours, not stolen. We talked around this in circles, and I got their number plate details before leaving.
I also managed to relay the bike’s frame number to the Scratch Bikes guy - it was conveniently stamped on the headtube, as I didn’t want to touch the bike to turn it over. I had the feeling that this might be seen as a provocative action by the three market traders.
I know it says “Do the right thing” at the top of this blog, but that can include running away!
The outcome of all this so far is that Scratch called the police, who went to the market and seized the bike as potentially stolen goods. As Scratch have full details of all their bikes, getting it returned should be pretty straightforward.
The only question remaining is what further action the police will take - other’s have commented that the forces of law and order can be remarkably blasé about cycle theft. This is a pity - if you’d been robbed on the street of, say £300 in cash, there’d at least be some sort of investigation. But if your securely-locked bike gets pinched, it seems that it’s just a hassle of filling out forms, and chalking up another unsolved crime.
I hope Northumberland Police will be taking a more robust approach to this one.