Theft victim arrested for demanding bike back

Published: 29 January 2010

A theft victim has been arrested for harassing a vehicle pound which is holding his stolen bike.

Michael Wheatley believes it should cost him nothing to get his stolen Honda Fireblade back after it was recovered by police within a mile of his home in Pitsea, Essex.

But it was taken to a pound over 10 miles away and Wheatley faced a £160 recovery and storage bill, which he refused to pay.

Since then the unemployed courier has emailed and phoned Albert Road Recovery in South Ockendon over 70 times to demand the £2,000 1994 Blade back.

Now the bill for its release is £500 thanks to mounting storage charges – and Wheatley has been cautioned by police for harassment.

Wheatley, 46, said: “I phoned about 10 times but they wouldn’t take my calls or phone me back so I gave up on that and stuck to emails. I must have sent a couple a day for six weeks, so about 60 in total, maybe more.

“A typical email said: ‘I feel aggrieved that I’ve been the victim of a crime and yet I’m being charged to get my bike back.’

“Eventually they blocked my primary email address so I used another one to send a message saying: ‘I’m still not giving up. I’m going to follow this through right to the end and go to court if necessary.’

“It was then that police came to my home and arrested me.”

“I was fingerprinted, photographed, DNA tested, and cautioned under the Public Order Act.”

Recovery costs can usually be claimed back on insurance but Wheatley’s bike was uninsured when it was stolen from his garden in November.

He had taken it off the road to save money while he was out of work.

A manager at Albert Road Recovery referred MCN to the police, saying: “As far as I’m concerned we won’t comment on this whatsoever.”

An Essex Police spokesman said: “A 46-year-old man was arrested on January 6 for a public order offence of harassment.

"He was later released having admitted the offence and agreeing to be dealt with by means of a caution.”

To read how Wheatley has involved Conservative leader David Cameron's office in his plight, get MCN, on sale February 3.