On 26th April my Peugeot PKN-10 Competition 1980 racer was stolen from outside a cafe in Hampstead, North London. A very distinctive bike with a very big frame (25 inches) and lots of rare gear on it including an original 1980 Peugeot computer.
I posted stolen notices all over the Internet and watched Gumtree and ebay like a hawk.
I found it! It was listed for sale in London. I emailed the seller and just said I wanted to see the bike with a view to bidding on it.
The next day he emailed me his mobile number and I arranged to see the bike at lunchtime, at his work - he works at one of the most famous architectural practices in the world, near my work. I printed out the pics I had taken when I had the bike, of both sides and of the frame number. I handed these to him and asked him to hold them as I turned the bike upside down and checked the frame number - yup, it was mine. I then asked him to unfold the paper and check the frame number. I told him it was a stolen bike and he said he had found it on a rubbish heap outside his home - in Hampstead. He had changed the bar tape from black to yellow, changed the saddle and pedals and someone (he said not him) had removed the mudguards, lights, computer etc.
He then said he wanted to be sure it was my bike, I said here is the crime number registered with the police, and i would be happy to call them. He then said he wanted to remove his parts form the bike. I pointed out, quite strongly that he had admitted removing my saddle and pedals and throwing them away so I was going to take the bike as it was and not call the police if he was reasonable.
He carried on whining about his parts, how he had stripped and cleaned and serviced the bike (he had overtightened the head bearings, taken off the original white cables, replaced them with crap black ones and put the new handlebar tape on upside down) and how he was going to get some tools and remove them, I started to get pissed off by this time and called the police, telling them I was going to forcibly remove the bike, and that it would not be good to be seen 'rolling around in the dirt arguing' about the bike outside his work. This got the police's interest and I thought they would respond quickly.
Sure enough, 5 minutes later they turned up. They threatened to arrest him for 'stealing by finding' after he admitted he was trying to sell it on ebay. He was very stubborn and foolish, constantly bleating about getting his parts back. He was starting to wind up the policeman and policewoman who had been called out and they turned to me and asked me if I would make a statement and then he would be arrested and taken to the local police station and probably cautioned - something that would stay on his record and probably not be very good on his CV.
I told the policeman that I would much rather take the bike as it was and not get the boy into trouble, I pointed out that his colleagues were now gathering round and looking in amazement as he talked himself into getting a criminal record. His attitude was incredible - he was gunning for trouble . After another five minutes of this arguing over some worn out pedals and a fairly crap saddle, I said again that I was taking the bike as it was, I would not get him arrested and that he was to go back into the cycle park at his work and get the bike. He did this and I just walked away, after giving my name and address to the policeman.
The morals of the story - if you find a bike, take it to the local police station and you will get to keep it if no-one claims it, or at least you can buy it later on the police online auction site - bumblebeeauctions dot co dot uk after a suitable time for the police to check if it is reported stolen/missing.
And if you lose a bike - keep looking on Gumtree, ebay, Preloved, all the auction sites, post stolen notices everywhere you can - with photos of your bike and make sure you have the frame number written down in more than one place plus stamp your postcode on the frame and register the bike with immobilise dot com
And if you do find a bike or steal one and the rightful owner comes to claim it, don't play up like a little bitch - say sorry and hand the bike back. The boy who had my bike came within a c**t hair of getting some punishment, it was mainly that I had a work colleague with me restraining me and that I had previously reported the bike to the police that I did not lose my temper.