Riddle of vanishing bike unlocked

By Beth Allcock on September 10, 2012 3:14 PM |

CS28028590Gav Hollander.jpg

There could be a glimmer of hope for Wharfers who believe their bikes have been stolen from the estate, after a longstanding security policy enforced by its landowners came to light.

Journalist Gav Hollander, who works for Inside Housing in One Canada Square, was reunited with his blue Trek Valencia bike last week, after reporting it missing from a rack in North Colonnade to both police and security staff, last October.

Although registered with police, it took nearly 12 months for officers to discover his property was being housed in a lock-up managed by Canary Wharf Group Plc, during which time he had forked out £500 for another bike.

John Garwood, company secretary and legal counsel for Canary Wharf Group, said the company had decided to implement a policy of removing bikes that were not locked to racks to a secure lock up, for "safekeeping", about 10 years ago.

Ordinarily, he said, a report of a new bike in the lock-up would then be sent to police, who try to marry-up any information from residents believing their bike has been stolen, and the property is returned.

"We are trying to be very good neighbours here and ironically we are trying to stop people's bikes being stolen," said Mr Garwood.

"The level of crime in Canary Wharf is incredibly low, but we do want to try to be helpful.

"Obviously, if it's (the bike) insecure, there is a risk of trouble, opportunist trouble, but nevertheless trouble.

"The view has been that we should take it away and put it in storage where it's secure, so people can get it."

He added: "In Mr Hollander's case, he spoke to one of our security officers and they said he better talk to the police about it.

"The next day, we married up two reports, the report of theft and the removal of the bike from the site, and called the police to tell them that.

"What should happen is the police should try to marry it up and there should be some sort of communication where they call back to us and say 'we have got the bike matching the description'.

"In this case, when it was reported to the police they didn't say that.

"This wasn't a usual thing to happen. There have only been two occasions in the past 10 years, so it's pretty rare."

After recovering his bike, Mr Hollander branded the policy as 'tantamount to theft'.

"It is taking property without telling people, whether it is private land or not," he said.

"My bike genuinely may not have been attached to the bike stand but it was clearly on the bike stand. Your bike gets taken and you don't expect it to be by the security guards."

A spokesman for Tower Hamlets police confirmed the bike had been found in a lock up held by Canary Wharf security and had been restored to the victim by police.

She said officers would check all bikes in the lock up and if they are security marked, or there was a way of identifying them to a crime report, they would contact the owners.

But cyclists will have to be relatively speedy to recover their property, as Mr Garwood admitted after a certain timescale, the bikes in the lock-up would be cleared out, raising cash for charity at the same time.

"In light of this we will be reviewing the way in which we deal with stolen bikes on the estate," he added.

If you think your property may be in the lock up, call Canary Wharf Group's 24-hour control room on 0207 418 2603.