A THIEF swiped a £7,000 racing bike from outside of a vets surgery after it been left for seconds by its cyclist owner.
Keen club cyclist Harry Blackwood was just feet away from his prized red and black Orbea Orca race bike – left behind the glass doors of the Clifton Lodge Veterinary Surgery, in Stockton Road, Hartlepool – when he saw it get snatched by criminal John William Robinson.
Harry shouted and gave chase, but the 25-year-old criminal made off on the bike across Stockton Road and disappeared down a back alley.
Fortunately, a member of the public saw what had happened and flagged down a passing police car, with the two officers inside telling Harry, 55, to jump in.
The cop car sped off in pursuit of Robinson and after officers alerted CCTV operators to search for him, he was soon spotted leaving the expensive cycle – which has been ridden thousands of miles by Harry in Portugal, Spain, the Lake District, Peak District, Rutland and North Wales – outside One Life Hartlepool, off Park Road, Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court was told.
Prosecuting, Vicky Wilson said: “It was about 4.30pm and CCTV operators saw Robinson leave the bike against the wall outside the One Life Centre and walk over the car park taking off his white jacket and heading towards Park Road.
“He was caught and put into the rear of a marked police vehicle, but as the officer walked towards the front of the vehicle, the defendant left it and ran off towards Middleton Grange Shopping Centre. After a short chase he was caught.”
Robinson, of Borrowdale Street, Hartlepool, appeared before justices in custody and pleaded guilty to theft of the bike and escaping from lawful custody, both on Saturday, May 13.
Mitigating, Neil Taylor, said: “There is quite a sad background to this, his family have been made subject to some threats. At the time of this offence there were some people following him and he jumped on the bike, which was not locked, and rode it a very short distance from Stockton Road to One Life Hartlepool where he left it. He didn’t try to steal the bike in terms of keeping it forever, he left it somewhere, however, without the owner’s consent.”
He added: “When he was in the police car the people who were following him drove up to and past the vehicle, so he jumped out and ran away. He panicked.”
Chairman of the magistrates’ bench Janet Watson adjourned sentencing Robinson – who is soon to become a father – until May 25 when he is due back in court to be dealt with for two shop thefts and released him on bail.
Dad-of-three Harry, who lives in High Hesleden, described the whole saga as “surreal” and was delighted to get his bike back.
“I honestly thought that I’d never see it again,” said the former Hartlepool Mail editor. “I just keep looking at it thinking how lucky I am to get it back. I’d really like to thank the police officers who dealt with it, Inspector Gary Cowan, Pc Jonathan Christie and Sergeant Tom Hart.
“Although it wasn’t the crime of the century, it was important to me. They didn’t know at the time that the bike was worth a lot of money but the effort they put in completely humbled me.”