I'd like to report a stolen bicycle, officer
By Ben Russell, Political Correspondent Friday, 25 July 2008
David Cameron's bike has got him into political trouble more than once but the final embarrassment may have come on Tuesday evening when thieves left him stranded after carrying away his two-wheeler for good.
The angry Tory leader, clad in shorts and T-shirt, found that his transport home had been taken after emerging from a five-minute stop at a supermarket in Notting Hill, west London.
Yesterday he joked: "I'm contemplating introducing sharia law for bicycle theft. I will consult the Mayor of London."
Cycling groups sympathised but said Mr Cameron should not have chained his bike to a two-foot-high bollard. The culprits had apparently simply lifted the bicycle and its lock over it. Mr Cameron said he had reported the theft to the police but was "not holding my breath" for the vehicle's return, which he has owned for five years. Only one in 20 stolen bicycles are recovered.
"I was cycling home and stopped to pick up some things for supper," Mr Cameron explained. "I chained the bike through the wheel then put it around one of those bollard things. I reported it using the police's new online facility but I'm not expecting to get it back any time soon. If anyone has seen it I would very much like it back. To me it was priceless."
The Cyclists' Touring Club said people should always lock bicycles to a proper cycle rack so they can clamp both wheels and the frame together.
Chris Peck, the CTC's policy co-ordinator, said: "It's very bad luck for him, even though he does not seem to have followed the correct procedure. We would definitely encourage him to continue and we hope he buys himself a nice new bike and takes a bit more care of it."
Charlie Lloyd, from London Cycling Campaign, added: "Mr Cameron should probably have taken more time to find somewhere to lock up his bike, but when you are in a rush it is a very easy mistake to make." However, a spokesman for Mr Cameron insisted that he had locked the bicycle up "pretty well".
The Tory leader cycles five miles to work at the House of Commons every Wednesday before Prime Minister's questions. But he faced ridicule when it emerged that he was followed by a driver carrying his clothes, shoes and official documents in his official Lexus.
He also faced criticism this year when he was photographed ignoring red lights and cycling the wrong way up a one-way street. He has been repeatedly seen riding around with his helmet slung over the handle bars.
Tesco said it would donate the estimated value of Mr Cameron's bike to the cycling charity Sustrans. "We are very sorry that David's bike was stolen from outside our store," a spokesman said. "David's setting a great example to everyone by using his bike to get around."