Hugh’s collectible Specialized S-Works M4 Festina edition was stolen from the Royal Melbourne Hospital car park on 30 August 2019, where it was chained up.
Holding little hope that his bike could be recovered and not wanting to waste police time, Hugh decided to not report his theft to police, but made a post on Facebook, where he was referred by friends to report his theft to BikeVAULT.
Unbeknown to Hugh, his bike was recovered by police 3 weeks later, when police attended an address in Southbank and arrested a 58-year-old male in relation to the theft of another bike. Whilst at the address police recovered the bike they were looking for and Hugh’s bike, which was confiscated as suspected stolen property, as it could not be found on the police database and the investigating police were unaware of BikeVAULT at the time.
The police subsequently charged the male with the offences of theft relating to the bike they were investigating, and deal property suspected of being a proceed of crime relating to Hugh’s bike. On 24 February 2020, the male appeared at the Melbourne Magistrates Court where he received a $750 fine without conviction.
Had the police been able to identify Hugh’s bike as stolen, the male may also have been charged with the theft of Hugh’s bike or handle stolen goods, which carries a maximum penalty of up to 15 years imprisonment in comparison to the lesser alternate charge of dealing property suspected of being a proceed of crime, which carries a maximum of 2 years imprisonment.
Whilst the male was not incarcerated for the offences, Hugh’s bike was, stored with other bikes with unknown owners in the police storage cage, waiting to be sold off at the police auction. The fate of Hugh’s bike changed in December 2020, when a police member, who has a keen interest in bikes and regularly searches BikeVAULT, spotted Hugh’s bike in the property store. After performing a simple ‘Make’ and ‘Model’ search of our stolen listings, he was able to quickly find the stolen listing and identify Hugh. Whilst Hugh’s bike had a court order to be sold, quick work by the diligent member saw the bike released from the property store in a matter of days and returned to Hugh, who was very happy to get his much-loved bike back. Great work by all involved!
Whilst the recovery and return of stolen bikes to their owners is less than 10% in Australia, the police do recover thousands of bikes each year, although many of these bikes are not linked to reported thefts and returned to their owners due to the inability to trace them on the police database.
Whilst lacking bike identification is the main culprit as to why many of these bikes are not returned to their owners, there are some like Hugh's stolen bike that are not reported to police. Whilst this obviously reduces the odds of recovery by the police, it also benefits the criminals, who may go undetected, or in Hugh's case not appropriately prosecuted, as the police could not prove his bike was stolen.
Photo below - Some recent unidentified stolen bikes sold at the Police Auction in Victoria.
Go to the PropertyVAULT News Page to read a sampling of 700 plus stolen bike recoveries that BikeVAULT has aided victims and police with over the past 6 years.