Cyclo-therapy: For every knocked-off bike being sold in Brick Lane, there's a heart-broken owner

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The Independent Online

It's always struck me as rather perverse that it's so very easy to get your hands on a stolen bike in London. Just about everyone knows that if you take a trip down to the end of Brick Lane in Shoreditch, east London, on a Sunday morning, you'll find dozens of kids peddling (not pedalling) expensive and often shiny new bicycles for knock-down prices. Yet even though this is common knowledge, the police never seem to do anything about it.

This thought is what flashed through my friend Jamie's mind, when he discovered his bike had been nicked a couple of weeks ago. There's no point reporting it to the police, he reasoned, because they're not remotely interested.

Instead, however, he decided to take the law into his own hands by heading down to Brick Lane the very next Sunday and giving some of London's premier bike thieves a piece of his mind. Even if he didn't find his wheels, he thought, it might be nice to vent some of his fury and frustration.

As it happens, however, he got to go one better – when he stumbled on a group of lads trying to sell the very bike he'd had stolen just a few days earlier.

When a call to the police received a predictably indifferent response, Jamie decided to win back his bike the old-fashioned way – by walking up to the teenagers, giving one a thump, grabbing his bike and riding off.

Having had bikes stolen many times, I have to confess that Jamie's story made me very happy. Although I never got the chance to confront any of the thieves who took my wheels (and would never have been brave enough to thump one), I felt like Jamie had stood up for bike-theft victims everywhere.

Jamie wanted me to tell this story, not to promote vigilantism, but to remind people not to continue putting money into the pockets of bike thieves. As he pointed out to several punters in east London on that Sunday morning, for every bike being sold on the corner of Brick Lane, there's a heart-broken owner out there somewhere.

So if you need a new set of wheels, take a trip to your local second-hand shop, or better still, save up for a new bike – it'll last you much longer. But whatever you do, don't give any more business to the Shoreditch heart-breakers.