James Daley: Cyclotherapy
Thursday 24 April 2008
Three weeks ago, just before I went on holiday, I had one of my bikes pinched after I left it chained to a railing somewhere near Trafalgar Square. Unlike my previous bike thefts, however, the culprits were kind enough to leave a note: "All bikes left here on 2 April have been moved to Begravia [sic] Police Station."
While you might think it's a bit rich to claim that my bike was stolen when there was a note clearly explaining it had been "moved" by the police, the events that followed have left me convinced; not only was it nicked, but it was nicked by a copper.
I had to wait until this week to take my trip down to Belgravia police station, where I was told that they had no record of a bike matching my description, nor any record of any bike picked up on the 2 April. Given that my bike was picked up from Trafalgar Square, they suggested that I see their colleagues at Charing Cross, to ask whether they had it there – but again, no joy.
On my second trip to Belgravia, the slightly embarrassed officer at the front desk agreed to let me look in the garage, to see if I could find it hiding anywhere. It wasn't there, either – although it was quite an eye-opener to see just how many bikes they had hiding down there. There were dozens, many of which looked like they'd been down there for years.
In the vast majority of cases, I imagine that the owners had never thought of calling Belgravia police station to ask whether their bike was in the secret underground bicycle pound. Most likely, they assumed that their wheels had been stolen, and claimed on the insurance – if they had any.
Although I was lucky enough to find the tag revealing that my bike had been confiscated by the police, the note was written on flimsy card that could easily have been removed by a passer-by. I imagine that many other people, whose bikes have suffered the same fate, never saw the police note.
I'm still struggling to understand why my bike was removed in the first place. There were no signs saying that I couldn't chain it there, and I'd even left it in exactly the same spot a week earlier. What's more, I'd chained it with a £40 lock, which I can only assume the police decided to saw through. Even if I'd managed to reclaim my bike this week, I don't suppose they would have compensated me for the lock that they destroyed.
As it is, I'm out of pocket to the tune of about £600. I can't claim on my insurance right now, as I don't have a crime reference number – and I doubt the police are going to be desperate to give one to me, given that the crime was probably committed by one of their officers.
Still, I do have one lead – the culprit can't spell Belgravia. So if anyone knows a dyslexic bent copper, perhaps they could give me a call.
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