- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
- By Richard Cantle: Founder of @StolenRide – contact [email protected]
In 2014, James Vernon had his ‘Parlee Z1’ bike stolen from his flat in Islington, London. What followed was an extraordinary story of a bike being reunited with its owner thanks to the kindness of a complete stranger in Spain and the power of social media.
More than 20,000 bikes are stolen each year in London, but the chance of an owner being reunited with their ride is extremely small. Most cyclists report their stolen bike to the Police but that tends to be the end of the road. While the Police have some fantastic officers and occasional success in reuniting people with their precious possessions, the volume of bike return is still relatively low.
James was not satisfied with the conventional route and became proactive by taking his search to local bike shops and posting the details online. The search went quiet until, out of the blue in October 2014, four months after tweeting @StolenRide, Armand Paul Kabarec- Quiroz replied to the original tweet asking James to get in contact.
Armand said that before spotting James’ bike he located a friend’s stolen ‘Cinelli’ bike online for sale; “the Cinelli pops out for sale, I manage to get the guys info and tell him that the bike was stolen and that the Police in London, Italy and Spain were looking for it. He then gave up the bike to the Zaragoza Police and I got the bike back for Paolo (Cinelli Owner) at the Red Hook Crit Barcelona. After I got back from the Red Hook Crit Milan, looking thought the same buy-sell Facebook page, I saw that the same guy was selling a high end Parlee Z1 for 1700€ and claiming it was new. Didn’t look right.”
Armand then saw James’ @StolenRide tweet.
“I knew it was his bike, not that many Parlee with a single speed and with a belt for the drive system. It was clear it was also stolen in the UK like the Cinelli and that the same guy was selling it. It had to be James. And I basically told the guy again the same as when I contacted him for the Cinelli. In a couple of hours he sent me a message that he was going to bring the bike in Monday morning. And he did!” Armand kept contact with James and progressed with the Spanish Police and a helpful officer in the MET to reunite bike. The process has taken many months to complete.
James said “I would like to say Armand has been great in helping push this process along with the Spanish Police.” In January 2015 James travelled to Barcelona and in the last week has received his bike safely home. Due to an ongoing criminal investigation it has not been possible to release this story until now. The indications from the police are that James’ bike is one of many stolen that has been shipped into Spain from London. It has been hinted that the Spanish police have little available resource to follow up on these bike leads, so it does come down to people like Armand keeping an eye out!
Armand is currently working to help get a ‘Canyon’ road bike, worth over £2k back with another owner in London! “It was really hard to find the owner, because they only published on LFGSS… If they had put it on Stolen Ride, I’m sure it would have been easier to find.”
Richard Cantle, Founder of Stolen Ride said “I could not be happier for James and am thankful for the work that Armand put into making this possible. It really shows how unique and strong the cycling community is around the world and the true connecting power of social media. This is not the first time we have received positive news. I’m proud of every person that makes up the @StolenRide community; retweeting stolen bikes can truly spread the word quickly around thousands of people. I urge cyclists to never give up the search if their bike is stolen and to keep battling the ever growing issue of bike theft; together we can make a difference!”
@StolenRide is a Twitter based community focused on locating London based stolen bikes. It is run by Richard and was founded off the back of experiencing the pain of having a bike stolen and an understanding that Twitter provides an open platform, ideal for quickly reaching the cycling community and building hundreds of eyes on the ground. People with bikes stolen in London simply tweet the details of their stolen ride to the account, where it is retweeted to the wider community. When there is a sighting, the bike owner can be very quickly contacted on Twitter, and then the Police can be updated.