Police stopped a Swindon cyclist for riding a stolen bike – but he had bought it legally from a town centre second-hand shop.

John Close parked his two-wheeler outside the Tesco Express one lunchtime to get some shopping done and was soon surrounded by police officers and store security guards upon his return.

The police informed him that the bicycle had been reported as stolen and then, when he protested his innocence, followed him to the Bridge Street shop where he had purchased it.

ReGenerate staff refunded the customer, helped return the property to its rightful owner, and stressed that there are strict safeguards in place to minimise the chance of stolen goods being pawned off there.

Swindon Advertiser: A stolen bike that had been sold to ReGenerate in SwindonA stolen bike that had been sold to ReGenerate in Swindon (Image: From public)

John said: “It was so humiliating and embarrassing to be accused of a crime like that in front of everyone.

“I bought that bike four months ago, legitimately, and I was then suddenly told it was on the police database.

“Now I don’t have a bike, which I need for work, and I want to warn others about this.

“For example, if a kid gets a bike for Christmas that was bought from a pawn shop, might it have been stolen? Could he then be accused by police of handling stolen goods?

“The person I spoke to at the shop said they often get bikes without serial numbers.

“I didn’t like his attitude, it seemed unprofessional, and I wonder if they have properly checked the rest of their stock.”

Swindon Advertiser: The ReGenerate second-hand shopThe ReGenerate second-hand shop (Image: Dave Cox)

The Adver visited ReGenerate this month to investigate the situation and heard about the process carried out regularly when people try to sell their wares to the store.

A member of staff explained that incidents like this are highly unusual and that all the right measures were taken.

The employee added: “Other pawn shops have different ways of running their business, but we take the seller’s address, a form of ID, and a photo so that we have a point of contact for them in future.

“99 per cent of the bikes we get are legit, and the serial number has to be on them.

“Though once, a customer wanted to sell a bike that had the serial number scratched off and he got offended when we said it must have been stolen – he had had it stolen and then returned to him, so he did actually own it, so it is difficult sometimes.

“We don’t have the power to accuse people of being thieves or judge their character.

“I did feel for the customer, but once we found him on our system and confirmed the bike had been bought from us, we apologised, refunded him, and reunited it with its rightful owner with the police’s help, so we did all the right things.

“Bikes often go through a lot of different hands before they get here. The person who sold us the stolen one had a faultless record and had bought that bike from someone else. He’s on the straight and narrow and was mortified when he heard about what happened.“ A Wiltshire Police spokesperson said: “We can confirm that we received a call from a member of the public reporting that he had spotted his bike which had been stolen in 2022 in Swindon town centre.

“An officer attended and spoke with the owner of the bike when he returned who confirmed he had bought the bike from a shop nearby.

“This was confirmed by the shop owner who refunded the bike and it will now be returned to its original owner."