A Lewisham man photographed with one of three racing bicycles stolen from a 69-year old athlete was arrested after a social media campaign run by the victim’s daughter.
Ashley Moore, 20, who has a previous conviction for bike theft was caught by police after pictures of him riding one of the stolen bikes around Hither Green were circulated on Twitter.
It was one of three bikes belonging to Vernon Thomas, who was due to compete for Great Britain in the World Champion Duathlon in Pontevedra, Spain, stolen from his home in Lee Park on May 8. He said the theft was ‘’a real hammerblow’’ to his preparations for the event, which involves running and cycling trials.
Following the theft, his daughter, Rachel Thomas, 40, launched the campaign #findvernonsbike. ‘’I got on Twitter ASAP,’’ said Rachel who already used Twitter regularly to promote her company, Brake Bikes.
Her father was “astounded” by the response; the picture of Moore riding one of the bikes was re-Tweeted more than 3,000 times.
His daughter was less surprised. ‘’I was Tweeting non-stop and I know many others were too,’’ she said.
Photos of the suspect were also shared with Lewisham police who in turn asked the public for support to locate the bikes.
Moore was arrested on May 14 and given a 12-week suspended sentence at Bromley Magistrates’ Court last week. He was also ordered to pay Thomas £6,000 compensation towards the cost of the bikes, which have not been recovered.
Rachel Thomas found the sentence weak: ‘’Ashley Moore got away with it as he had previously been arrested for stealing expensive bikes.’’
She hopes that the success of the social media campaign will act as a deterrent to bike theft in Lewisham.
Her father eventually came fifth in the 70-74 age group in the Pontevedra event and this weekend he finished sixth at the 2014 European Triathlon Championships in Kitzbuhel, Austria, thanks to the loan of two bikes from Paul Meopham of Harry Perry Cycles in Woolwich.
By Niall Sargent