A Vicious Cycle

FELIX NUGEE explains how finding his stolen bike wasn’t enough.

bikes Cambridge cycling Lock Shop Sidgwick Theft

To say that my family likes bikes is an understatement. I was brought up in a house that had a specialised “bike room” roughly the size of the kitchen, and far larger than than my sister’s bedroom. We were the kind of London family that didn’t own a car because we simply cycled everywhere.

A happier time with my bike

So, either through nature or nurture, I have come to love bikes. Naturally, then, I was devastated when my bike was stolen last year. In the depths of my despair I was also foolish and naïve. “Woe is I, the police will not help me through this. I will never see my beloved Gary Fisher again, regardless of whether or not I report it – so what’s the point? I will soldier on alone with nothing left but fond memories of trips to school in full spandex for charity, uncontrollable rattling whenever I cycled anywhere and many many near death experiences.”

The worst thing was that I had to go through this pain twice: the first time was at the end of Easter term, when I thought it was stolen and had simply forgotten where I left it, and the second time months later when I found it and caught the train home to pick up my key… only to return two nights later and discover that thieves had pounced. Ironic.

None of this should have surprised me really. Cambridge is one of the hottest spots for bike crime in the UK and bike theft accounts for a quarter of all crimes, with around 2 500 going missing each year. I was told again and again to register my bike and it was almost criminally stupid to forget where it was long enough for thieves to target it. But it’s not actually criminal; stealing bikes, however, is. So the other day at Sidgwick when I saw what was, without a doubt, my old bike, I felt the need to take some kind of action.

I left a note asking to talk to its owner, and when we met I realised I didn’t begrudge him at all. I just felt a bit sorry for him, forking out £150 for a bike that had been worth that much on my seventeenth birthday and almost certainly wasn’t now. By some chance, he had the receipt with him and so we headed over to the shop where he bought it for our big showdown.

Which came to nothing. Upon arrival I explained my story to an ogre of a man who was completely unfazed and interrupted before I finished to ask where my receipt was. “The receipt from when this was bought for me four years ago?” Apparently that was what he wanted. Otherwise he could go around and claim any bike simply by saying he had one which was similar. “I have four of those models go through my shop on a termly basis, it could be any one of those.” My protestations regarding the colour of the spokes and the scratches from where I’d crashed into a brick wall (don’t judge me) came to nothing.

To be fair, I wasn’t really expecting it to. What I really wanted was the satisfaction of being able to look someone in the eye and know they were lying to me. I wanted to publish accusations about them on a widely read online student newspaper. However, I’ve been told I’m not allowed to do so for legal reasons. I will say that the shop in question lies between my house behind Fitzbillies and the Sidgwick site and that if you buy a bike from them, don’t be surprised if other people recognise it.

Information about how to register your bike can be found at www.immobilise.com  (which I’ve just done for my new one).