BRISTOLIAN bike thieves have torched a 1951 Triumph Thunderbird and posted the video on Instagram, a day after demanding a £1,000 ransom from its owner.
The brazen group of youths, who go by the name ‘biketakerrr’ on Instagram, reportedly took the classic motorcycle from a garage in Clifton, a suburb of the western city.
In a post on Monday, the group bragged about having the bike – which is worth between £7,000 and £10,000 – in their possession, commenting: ‘If [the owner] wants it back he gotta pay or it gets burnt’.
Just a day later they shared a video of the upturned motorcycle being set alight. As the bike burns, a helmet and tracksuit-clad boy gestures at the camera.
Fortunately, officers from Somerset and Avon Constabulary working on Operation Buell – which tackles motorcycle theft in Bristol – were able to identify the bike’s location and recover it soon after the video was posted.
Inspector Rob Cheeseman, who leads the operation, commented: ‘We are really disappointed and frustrated at the sequence of events and sympathise deeply with the victim, who we have been working alongside ever since the bike was stolen last week.
‘Our sole aim from the outset was to get the bike back undamaged which unfortunately hasn’t happened. However, the bike isn’t too badly damaged and it is hoped it can be fully restored. We also have a number of investigative leads which are being fully explored – this is still very much a live investigation.
Cheeseman urged bikers to stop sharing and commenting on the social media posts.
‘We are of course aware of the social media accounts and the way the thieves have been goading and taunting the community with their criminal behaviour, and we are investigating as far as possible any leads from this activity,’ he said.
‘However, it is worth stating that the more their antics are shared, discussed and publicised, the more they will continue to use the accounts, as they are getting the reaction that they crave.’
While the full extent of the damage is unknown, the owner reportedly hopes to restore the model to its former glory.
A post on Facebook page Bristol Bike Theft Awareness says: ‘[The owner is] extremely grateful for all who shared, made contact and searched for his bike. He’s amazed at just how big the community is.
‘The bike has now (thankfully) been recovered with great work by ASP [Avon & Somerset Police]. It’s in a safe location and being checked over. I’m not going to comment on its condition.’
‘There is an astronomical amount of resources allocated to this investigation.
‘The owner does NOT want any hunting parties or vigilante action off the back of this theft! He is FULLY supportive of the police investigation as, like me, he knows a LOT more than the public know and is satisfied with what is occurring.’