I use a bike a lot, mostly as a convenient and very fast way of transportation in Bratislava. My bike is few years old and I was very incovenient leaving it in the public spaces, even when secured with a sturdy U-lock. But after few years I got acquainted with leaving it securely locked without any fear of getting it stolen.
Therefore, I was surprised tonight leaving a cafe in the centre to find my bike fallen on the ground. At first I had thought that it just fell down, but coming closer I found my front wheel missing. It uses a quick-release front wheel mechanism, so it’s quite easy to get it undone and run.
I unlocked rest of the bike (untouched) and was slowly pulling it away, when I got an idea to call the city police. The guy on the 159 emergency line was very helpful and although he couldn’t give me any details regarding the police cameras nearby (maybe the thief got filmed by the cameras?), he told me to go and report it to the state police. Anyway, I wasn’t very convinced if that makes any sense as we know this is a small theft. He persisted and I thanked him, but went to the tram stop to catch a tram and transport rest of the bike body home. But right then, a state police car slowed down by and an officer asked about my front wheel. I told him it got stolen, so he told me to go and report it to the nearest non-stop police station, which was about 700 metres far away. I asked him to help me to transport the bike there as its weight and front wheel missing made it very inconvenient to move it anywhere. He told me that his trunk was occupied, so I told him they were readily transporting criminals, but not helping their victims. But surely, it was another convincing moment and so I resorted to go and report the theft at last.
After some time I arrived at the police station, where an officer asked me what was wrong and quickly prepared documents required to be filled. I reported the facts (the bike was locked to the door grate with an U-lock etc.) and we did some small-talk as he was writing down the report. Then I signed the necessary documents requesting to be notified about the results of investigation and left with the bike hoping to catch the last tram.
Unfortunately, I missed the last tram byt some two minutes and thinking about how difficult it would be to find a larger taxi, I just started to pull bike thinking about how long it takes to get home like this. After a short while another police car pulled over and officer asked me where I was taking the bike. I told him that my front wheel was stolen and I was going home. He asked me to see my papers and now I was a suspected thief stealing the bike body. His partner told him to check a copy of my report and I quickly gave it to him. Everything was OK after few seconds and they started to joke about making the bike stationary. Seeing their large Volkswagen Touareg I asked them if they would be so nice as to help me to transport my bike body home. They opened their trunk, lowered the back seats, we fit it in and this is how I got transported home.
My overall experience with the Slovak police have been satisfying – they were helpful (except the less helpful officers in the first car), polite and even helped me to transport the bike body home. Thank goes to the report officer and the officers in XXXXXX car (update: license plate ID removed as I am not sure how stupid bureaucracy rules work and if they were allowed to help – completely absurd, I know).
PS: I forgot to report my speedometer sensor mounted to the front wheel missing as well, but 120 EUR reported value should get it covered (at least on the paper).
PPS: Google offers lots of tips on how to lock a bike. I should buy another U-lock to secure the front wheel (or at least don’t forget to secure it with a standard lame lock).