That time I was cornered by police for riding a ‘stolen’ bike

Wrong arm of the law? I was once collared by cops by mistake thanks to a number-plate cock-up

Triumph Tiger Sport 660 and police car

That time I was dramatically cornered by police for riding a ‘stolen’ bike

I was only there to buy a snorkel. I’d left home early, as it was one of those two 40-degree heatwave days we had in the summer of 2022, and I didn’t want to sweat profusely into £700-worth of Goretex jacket lent to me from Triumph. It was supposed to be a nice, easy ride before work, but that’s not how things would pan out.

The bike was from Triumph, too - the then-new-ish Tiger Sport 660 which I was testing for Car Throttle, now Visordown's sister title. It looked eye-catching in Korosi red, but little did I know it had also caught the attention of the local constabulary. 

I first noticed the marked BMW following me into the car park and quickly racked my brain, wondering if any of my riding in the past few miles would warrant stern words from an officer of the law. But no - I’d just been plodding along happily, obeying all the speed limits. 

And then, just as I pulled into the parking space, I found myself boxed in - marked car at one end of the bike, an unmarked BMW 1-series that seemed to come out of nowhere covering the opposite end. What, and indeed, the fuck. 

The next thing I heard and saw was one officer running towards me shouting “Get the keys get the keys!” or something similar. Thinking I was just parking up to do some pre-holiday shopping at Decathlon Rushden Lakes, I’d already put the bike on the side stand and taken said keys out of the ignition barrel, which I then calmly handed over. I don’t think this was the reaction he’d been expecting. 

Confused, I started to remove my gloves and helmet, and which point I was told something along the lines of “sorry to tell you sir, but this bike is stolen”. From the tone of the officer’s voice, I got the sense he wasn’t that sorry. I responded that I didn’t think so, given that it was a Triumph press bike. “Yeah, yeah,” was the sarcastic response. 

Thankfully, the officer’s colleague was much more genial, and it turned out, a biker, so we got chatting about various two-wheeled subjects including his Buell, while my driving license was checked over and radio messages were sent and recieved. 

Soon enough, I’m told by the less cheery of the two that the bike, in fact, was not stolen. “Yeah, no shit,” I wanted to say, but sadly didn’t. It turned out that someone else’s Tiger Sport 660 had been stolen, and the number plate hadn’t been entered quite right. So instead, the bike I was on had been reported pinched. 

It was then explained to me that the officers had their suspicions that the information was wrong, probably because I was in proper kit and bimbling along like a pensioner. Understandably, though, they said they had to follow up on the information they had under the assumption it was correct. 

I had something vaguely resembling an apology, and off they went, leaving a bemused me to go and sort the shopping I’d gone there for, grab an iced coffee and head home, but not before WhatsApping all my biking mates about being the target off a mistaken police ‘sting’.