Thursday, 8 March 2012

Someone tried to steal my bike

This evening I caught a man trying to steal the Brompton while I was travelling by train into central London. I still can’t believe the audacity and that I caught him in time.

The story
I was going to my evening class and the trains going into the city are generally quiet because everyone is on their way home going in the opposite direction. Because of this I sometimes don’t fold the Brompton because there is plenty of space and it saves time at the end of the journey. A quick flip of the back wheel and away I go.

The bike was parked as above and I always sit near by incase the bike falls over or I have to move it out the way of other passengers. I was sitting on an aisle seat with my back to the Brompton.

I was busy drawing in my sketch book when I caught the smell of a cigarette. I was automatically at attention because smoking is prohibited on trains .

The bike had come into a station and the doors opened. I heard a noise at the Brompton and I turned my head to see a man in a baseball cap, the smoker, trying to work out how to pick up the Brompton. For a moment I couldn’t work out what he was doing, then I saw he trying to move the bike to the open door. I just jumped up and stood in front of him and the bike and said, “What the FxxK are you doing?” By this time I was full of adrenaline. He let go of the handlebars and jumped off the train before the doors closed. I was shaking with rage after he left. He must have hoped that I was too distracted to notice what was happening or maybe he thought another passenger was the owner. But the smell of cigarette gave him away.

I will not leave my Brompton like that again. In someways it was fortunate it was not fully folded as he could have just picked it up and walked away. Likewise had it been completely open he could have just wheeled it away but I would have heard it. Bromptons, are very noisy.

I am just very grateful I caught him in time.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was on a train a couple of years ago when a bike was stolen from the cycle carriage. The owner couldn't find a seat nearby and went to sit in another carriage. Gave me a wake up call. Now I always lock my bike if I'm not near it on the train. At least then they can't just wheel it away.

Cycling in Heels said...

Good idea. I have become casual about security but not anymore.

trio said...

Scary, glad you caught him in time!

Officially you are not allowed to lock bikes on trains. If I can't sit near mine I just stand, my bikes are too important to me, sometimes just sit on the floor next to them ;-)

Anonymous said...

Glad you caught the @@@@@@.
for sure keep it next to you or lock it to something - its just not worth the risk.
Love your blog - discuvered it while researching bromptons..I'm a guy so don't wear heels - but appreciate nice things all the same
Keep blogging kid :0)

su said...

I rarely leave it alone and getting it stolen on the train is one of my worst nightmares. Whenever you leave it half folded like in the picture, you can lower the seat, so that the flipping the back wheel is locked. It costs you some seconds, but it's harder to figure out and steal. Of course the Brompton is very easy to carry. So should we be locking it all times or not?

Pammie said...

I'm sorry to hear about that - but glad you caught the *ss in time! That is so ridiculous that Western society has come to this!

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Scotland! So glad you managed to rescue your bike from the thief. Isn't it depressing that there are people out there prepared to steal from you the minute your back is turned? Anyway, keep your eyes on your bike and keep up the blogs! I love reading them.

Mark said...

Nice save. I'm utterly paranoid about leaving mine on trains. Greeting from New York City by the way, nice blog.

Anonymous said...

If its out of sight. Or your doing something. Lock it.
Sadly there are just too many opportunists out there.
I use SW trains and my journey is an hour. I lock my bike up. One because it's out of sight in the stowage area and two, so I can relax and plug my pod in or watch something, without worrying about it.
I know it's a pain.

Chandra said...

Glad you saved the bike from getting stolen and that you are okay.

Paz :)

Andrew (CrazyBee) Barnett said...

Wow close call, I always keep my "Brompton Bumble-B" close by, hell between my legs folded is as far as I ever go. Glad you caught him before he could work out how to unfold it but also glad you didn't get hurt at the same time.

Anthony said...

I used to get annoyed when people didn't abide by the railway rules, but now I'm not so sure - what a good job that bloke broke them and had a cigarette! And well done for standing up to him. I have followed your blog for several years, and it (together with an article on Bromptons by Will Self) persuaded me to get one. Love it to bits and can't imagine life without it. Do keep on blogging.

She Rides a Bike said...

I just assume at all times my bike is a risk of being stolen. Yes, it's cynical but everyone has a stolen bike story. So glad that your's worked out better than most.

Haven't had too many issues on public transit but when I have, I've always found that a well-timed explicative gets the job done.

Courtnee said...

I'm so glad you stopped that thief from getting your bike! That's a huge fear of mine. When I leave my bike locked up to a bike rack I have to calm myself by recalling the fact that nobody rides bikes in suburban Atlanta.

Anonymous said...

I am happy you caught the opportunist before they made off with your bike, I hope you went on a nice ride afterwards.

I would recommend buying a basic lock, most thieves won't bother if they can't make off with it in an instant, and few will carry tools on a train (a reputation is preceded by evidence onboard.) You can get a £5 to £10 lock which will do the job easily,

One of those little locks with the alarm would really scare them off.

Susannah said...

My Brompton was snatched on Tottenham Court road about 2 months ago – my boyfriend left it by the shop door and it was snatched in seconds. I was so furious I insisted he buy another one to replace it and so we looked on Ebay and Gumtree for a second hand one.
By some miracle, we ended up getting our very own bike back from the thief who is due in court in 2 weeks time charged with handling stolen goods. So that will be one less Brompton thief in our midst! The thing with Bromptons is that we rarely take a lock with us as the bike stays by our side most of the time. After reading your experience I will never let it out my sight again. Great blog!

Cycling in Heels said...

That is an amazing story! So pleased to that you got your Brompton back.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful that you got your bike back, Susannah! My husband regained a bike that had been stolen from him 18 months prior. We were strolling down 2nd Avenue in NYC when he recognized his bike, locked up in front of a Chinese food delivery joint. It was being used for deliveries. Long story short, we stole it back under dark of night, as the cops couldn't help us (no proof of ownership by that time). Lesson: always take the time to file a report with the police when you have something stolen, regardless of how hopeless its return may seem. The record of the theft remains, and may help you later.

Cheers,

Elena in NYC

Adrian Boliston said...

That sounds like bare faced cheek! Myself & partner have recently got Bromptons and only used them on a train once, but every time the train stopped I got up and checked no one was about to make off with our bikes! Luckily the train got quite empty so we could move the bikes and put them next to the spare seats in front of us, as it's a bit worrying having them in racks the far end of the carriage. I'd buy a basic lock if I did a lot of train trips so someone could not simply grab the bike and make off with it even though having a lock for a Brompton seems a bit odd.

Grace Black said...

Yes, I now keep my Brompton with me when I am on the train. I also have a very strong lock for those occasions that I leave it outside in a public place.