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Bristolian bikers fight back against motorcycle theft

A group of friends have formed 'Stolen Motorcycle Recovery Bristol', and have so far recovered more than 50 two-wheelers

A group of Bristolian bikers, fed up of rising two-wheeled theft in the western city, have taken it upon themselves to investigate thefts and recover the stolen bikes.

And in just a year, ‘Stolen Motorcycle Recovery Bristol’ (S.M.R.B) has recovered 56 stolen two-wheelers and reunited them with their owners, saving them hundreds of pounds in recovery and insurance costs.

The group, comprising friends and members of Blackhawk MCC Joe Mathews, Domonik Wójcik and Martin Bailey patrol Bristol in their converted recovery van, which features the S.M.R.B logo on the side.

Their mission is in response to the gangs that steal motorcycles and taunt the owners and police on social media – the likes of the ‘Bristol BikeTakerrrs’, who came to media attention earlier this year after callously stealing and torching a classic Triumph Thunderbird, despite the owner agreeing to pay a ransom for its safe return.

Speaking of their purpose Bailey commented: “It's just a passion for bikes. That's what it is, that's what we've all got. It's just horrible seeing the motorbikes go and seeing them taunt people in the Instagram pages.”

The trio, all of whom have day jobs, patrol local parks and scrubland in their free time, looking for dumped bikes. They are often contacted with tip offs via their Facebook page.

Such is the violence of the gangs, that they are forced to wear stab proof vests and slash proof gloves.

Avon and Somerset Police are now working with the recovery team in one of the first partnerships of its kind in the country. However, the police encourage the group to avoid confrontation due to the gangs’ violent nature, and to concentrate on just returning abandoned bikes.

Inspector Rob Cheeseman of Avon and Somerset police commented: “It's very carefully managed and it has to be, and there are concerns for them out there. But in reality what they are doing is looking for bikes which belong to victims of crime where they have been dumped and they just looking to recover them. There's no vigilante element at all.”

A Just Giving page allows the community to support the trio and the work they are doing. Since May 20, more than £2,000 has been raised, which will go towards a new recovery van and the associated expenses.  

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