About a year ago my old bike was stolen by cutting through the fence that I had locked it too (I didn't realize that the fence was thinner than the lock itself) and now I've come across it once again whilst on a jog and checked the serial number and it was the same as my old one. I've contacted the police and they said they don't have any legal power of cutting through a lock, so what am I supposed to do?

The bike hasn't been used in a while as there are cobwebs on it and tires are flat, so I don't suspect I'll find the new owner anytime soon.

Edit - Forgot to say that this was in London

  • This is a good question but I think it should be moved to the legal advice pages. We could answer how to steal it back, but not whether you should
    – Swifty
    Feb 9, 2022 at 19:26
  • Did you nake any kind of insurance claim at the time the bike was stoken? IANAL, but if you did, it's conceivable that the bike now "belongs" to the insurance company.
    – TripeHound
    Feb 9, 2022 at 19:41
  • Is it your lock? Feb 9, 2022 at 19:43
  • 1
    Near where I lived in Dublin, someone went into the Gardai and reported, like you did, that they had found their previously stolen bike just down the road. The Guards went out and cut the bike off the lampost. Couple of hours later, new person arrives in the station to report that their bike had been stolen - the lock cut, just down the road from the station...
    – Paddy
    Feb 10, 2022 at 8:52
  • 1
    Do you have any proof that it is your bike? Like a purchase document with the serial number on it or something?
    – Vilx-
    Feb 10, 2022 at 9:24

5 Answers 5


Call the police again.

If they say no again, ask at least for a log number, I'm nearly certain they should be able to give you one while you're still on the phone.

If you haven't previously reported the theft as a crime, do it now. They may say you will have to wait a day or so for a crime reference number, I think that's actually ok.

In any case, ask how to complain, that might be enough to make them reconsider their refusal.

Note, I will provide more than one answer.


Report to the police and ask for instructions. They should be capable of telling what you are legally supposed and allowed to do. You will be asked to prove your ownership over the bicycle, maybe present a document where this serial number is included. If you actually cannot prove the bicycle is yours, I would say, leave it where it is and forget. Of course the police does not have any legal power to give you a random bicycle from the street you point the finger to, and if you start breaking the lock yourself, they may show more interest in your behavior.

Makes sense to report the stolen bicycle and its frame number when it has been stolen, not when found again. Even without enough clues to investigate exactly your case from scratch, the police may just find the bicycle abandoned, at the person captured for something else or seize a batch of stolen bicycles.


Consider joining cycling UK to get their legal advice: https://www.cyclinguk.org/legal-advice-cyclists

Note, I will provide more than one answer.


Happened to a colleague of mine in central London. About 10 years ago. He relocked it with his own lock. Left a note. Proved ownership to the police. They gave him some paperwork and agreed it was his. New 'owner' was uncooperative when he got in contact (said he bought in good faith) but did not speak to police. Police agreed my colleague could cut the other lock. I lent him a suitable tool. He went to the bicycle, started cutting. New Policeman approaches him - 'is this your bicycle, sir?'. 'Yes, and this is the paperwork'. All good. Although we were probably a bit surprised.


Get a locksmith to open the lock for you. The make and model of the lock, or even a photo of the keyhole, should be enough to get a quote.

This way you're getting your property back without damaging anyone else's.

The current owner probably bought it in good faith on gumtree, it's uncomfortable but not your problem.

Note, I will provide more than one answer.

  • 2
    Ought this be done regardless of the police acting or not?
    – gschenk
    Feb 9, 2022 at 14:25
  • 4
    Why not include all this information in one answer? Have I missed some SE directive that says answers should be seperated as you have done? Feb 9, 2022 at 21:42
  • 5
    @LamarLatrell: you may be interested in "What is the official etiquette on answering a question twice?" .
    – David Cary
    Feb 10, 2022 at 2:25
  • 2
    I can see a way that the information you've provided could be included in one answer. But that's just me ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Feb 10, 2022 at 4:00
  • 1
    I guess you could get reputation from every answer if they get upvoted. Gamification for the win!
    – ojs
    Feb 10, 2022 at 10:02

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