One That Didn't Get Away
by Andy Dickson
You know you've had your
bike nicked when you find yourself looking for it in the kitchen cupboards.
For about a minute I managed to keep the certainty at bay with this madness.
Psychologists call it denial.
Running out of small spaces to look in, I returned to the car (the bike had been locked inside) to double check the glove compartment and ashtray. It was then I saw the broken glass and realised for certain that I was A Victim Of Crime.
The irony of launching a new mountain bike magazine* and getting your bike stolen before issue one hits the streets is something I can now laugh at. Actually I can't, I just make a grunting noise and force the sides of my mouth up.
Ten days later I saw my bike as I drove past a kid's playground a mile from my house. I thought my stomach was going to come out of my mouth. Usually, you've got more chance of finding Haley's Comet in your underpants than seeing your stolen bike again.
I decided to call the boys in blue. Then I parked up, grabbed Frank, a two-year-old son I keep handy when I feel the urge to visit children's playgrounds, and casually sprinted in to double-check.
My first fleeting glance was confirmed. Let's face it, it's an idiosyncratic blend of high-priced kit on a carbon fibre hardtail. You don't get bikes like that 'down the swings' where full-suspension rules.
Plod turned up and confronted the toe rag. Sorry, suspect. He'd bought my bike for £200 at a car boot sale two weeks before I'd reported it missing. Sadly, I know a thing or two about 'boots' and you can pretty much buy every single thing and still have change from £100. And I've never seen a bike for sale at one that didn't previously reside in a skip.
The bastard, sorry, accused, nearly got me though, because I didn't know my frame number. Never mind the fact I could practically describe its molecular structure, he still damn near walked out of the park with my bike because I didn't record a string of digits. Fortunately, I wore the police down. After 20 minutes of stand-off my detailed description of the number and colour of my inner tube patches and thorough knowledge of Shimano serial numbers swung the argument my way. That and his 'previous'.
Into the wagon went the slimeball. Sorry, society's victim. I got the bike back later that week.
Ten weeks and lots of riding later -- when I've completely forgotten the affair -- they want me in court to testify. To my surprise, they're taking bike theft seriously.
Up in front of the magistrates Mr Car Boot has no legal representation. This is the first time I've had a chance to hear him speak and he's definitely a chip short on his logic board.
Like I said, I've completely forgotten the affair. Life has returned to normal, rage has subsided and it seems a shame to bang a man up since the stolen property has been returned to its owner. Anyway, he escapes a custodial sentence, but gets a £500 fine. Probably have to steal a couple of bikes to pay for it, though.
© Andy Dickson
Maximum Mountain Bike, vol. 1, no. 4
*Andy was MMB's first editor.
other stories by A. Dickson