They say that you never forget how to ride a bike, but after many years, I might come pretty close. Growing up, I rode bikes quite regularly until my 13th birthday, when I was given an entirely new cycle to travel round the block with. I duly obliged for about three days, after which I returned home to find my bike gone; stolen in its prime, and leaving psychological scars that have not healed to this day.
At the time, I was unlikely to go on a Liam Neeson style rampage (partly because the movie Taken was still a year away from being released and partly because it was a school night), but I’d like to think my revenge mission would have gone a little like Jenni Morton-Humphreys’ innovative retrieval job. She noticed her set of wheels being advertised online, and she decided to give the bike thief a taste of their own medicine.
This astonishing turn of events began as 30-year-old Jenni locked up her bike at the Watershed, a venue in Bristol, but returned later to find that it had been stolen. Distraught, she reported the incident to the police, and posted a picture of the bicycle on the Bristol Cycling page on Facebook in a desperate attempt to locate her lost bike.
In some instances, a plea like this one made by Jenni can turn out to be rather fruitless, but on this occasion, one of the members of the Facebook group (who wishes to be known as Chris for this story) tracked down the 30-year-old’s bicycle being sold on a separate website, by a user only known as Bebop.
At this point, Jenni and Chris hatched a cunning sting operation to get her beloved bicycle back; Chris called the online seller, and told him that his sister was looking for a new bike. They arranged a time and a place to make the transaction, but Bebop told Chris that his business partner (aptly named Rocksteady) would be the one to meet Chris at Stapleton Road in Easton.
Jenni contacted the police with this information, hoping they would step in and help apprehend the crook, but while they were interested in further investigation, law enforcement decided not to assist her. In fact, they warned her against carrying out the sting, but Jenni went ahead any way. Accompanied by her friend Matt, Jenni described the lead-up to the daring sting.
“I pretended to be interested and asked silly questions about the bike,” she said. “I said the saddle was too high, and asked if I could get on it to test it out. I made sure I had nothing on me, no possessions at all apart from the stuff in my hands – and they were a cigarette packet and a set of keys. I handed them to this guy as I got on the bike and said ‘here, hold my stuff’.”
Jenni got on the bike, and pedalled as fast as she could. Before long, she was out of sight, and was able to successfully navigate home without fear of running into the thieves. While the police can’t prove that Bebop had stolen the bike (he said he’d bought it the night before in a pub), Jenni is just glad to have it back, and her story proves that revenge doesn’t always have to be a dish served cold.