As featured on the BBC – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-25913241
Thousands of bikes are stolen in the UK each year. Most are never seen again by their owners, and some even have to be bought back from criminals. But when advertising account manager Hugh Allman, 28, had his taken, he was eventually reunited with it – largely because he had hand-built it himself out of bamboo and it was utterly unique.
I have friends who run a workshop where you can build a bamboo bike frame, so last summer I decided to make one for myself. The handles and wheels came from an old racer. Because bamboo is hollow, it’s very light, but it’s pretty solid – I rode it from London to Brussels over the August bank holiday. On Saturday I went out with friends for a ride. At about 16:00 there was a downpour so we took shelter a coffee shop. I could look outside and see the bike. After five minutes I looked out again and it was gone – the lock, the bike, everything. I was gutted. I called the police but was 99.9% sure I wouldn’t get it back.
The following morning I got up at 07:00 and went to look around the markets. I went to a little one off Brick Lane, in east London, and there was my bike – I couldn’t miss it. I couldn’t believe my luck. I was on my own, so didn’t confront them. I called the police, who said they’d come down, so I waited for 30-40 minutes. It was hard not to draw attention to myself. I spent 20 minutes pretending to look at women’s shoes. Eventually I had people shouting: “You’re a copper, get your earpiece out.”
Well, I thought they’re not going to do anything because they think either I’m a policeman or the police are coming, so I asked about the bike. One of the guys said: “It’s not mine.” I went outside the market to try and find the police. When I came back the bike had gone. But then the police arrived and confronted the guys on the stall, who were shouting at me. And then an undercover officer came along with the bike – it had been put to the side. There was no doubt it was mine. The police couldn’t arrest the guys because there was no evidence they had taken it. I was just ecstatic to have it back. The next purchase I’ll make is a decent D-lock.