A witness to an attempted bike jacking on the Kent-London border last weekend has told Cycling Weekly of the "terrifying" incident he was party to.
"If I hadn't messed around choosing which gloves to wear that day it could well have been me," Nathan Howard told Cycling Weekly on Monday. "It was pretty daunting."
The Metropolitan Police have confirmed they attended and are investigating the crime, in which a middle-aged man was attacked in an attempt to steal his BMC, which we believe is a Timemachine Road 01, worth £6,000 when new. Thanks to the quick thinking of some passing motorists, the robbery was foiled, but the man - David - was left with facial injuries.
It is not the first time in recent months that violent bike robbery has occurred, with one club - Regent’s Park Rouleurs - particularly targeted on their morning rides.
Towards the end of 2023, members of the RPR have been targeted on at least three separate occasions, in one case, the rider "crashed, blacked out and woke up in hospital".
Earlier this year, a 17-year-old boy was sentenced to 12 months in youth custody for playing a part in the violent bike mugging of pro rider Alex Richardson in Richmond Park. In June Cycling Weekly also reported how one robbery in East London left a rider with injuries including a broken jaw and missing teeth.
Last Saturday, Howard was out on his regular route from south east London to the Knatts Valley in Kent, when he came across the crime almost in process.
"There's a small descent on Crockenhill Road, and I noticed two people on a moped, with balaclavas on, barreling along," he explained. "As a cyclist, you notice these things, as certainly in London this seems to be one of the danger signs of 'something's about to happen'.
"As I was coming off the descent, I noticed two cars parked up on the wrong side of the road and a rider standing behind. David, the guy, was bleeding from his ear, one eye was fully closed up, I think he probably had a broken nose. The two ladies with him were drivers who had got there before me, and were tending to him. He was pretty dazed, certainly in shock.
"The story, that they told me, was that the moped riders pushed this guy off his bike, he hit the deck, jumped straight back up and grabbed his bike. They said 'give me the bike', and so they were trying to take it off him, one jumped off and starting hitting him in the face.
"Fortunately for him, a car came in the other direction, and kept moving closer to them, and they must have got spooked by that. They jumped off the moped and sped off, and that's what I caught."
The police were called and arrived after about half an hour, with Howard later giving a statement; the victim was taken to hospital to be checked out, but was left without serious injury, it is thought.
"It was very lucky, a close escape for him," the London-based cyclist said. "If they had been carrying weapons, it might have been very different. I know people who it has happened too, which is scary enough when you think about. When you see it in the flesh, it's another thing.
"To ride home, I paired up with another guy who was on his own that day too. We rode back together. When the police are gone, and these guys are still out there. It's definitely something you think about."
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said that they had arrived "within minutes", but too late to apprehend any suspects.
"Police were called to Crockenhill Road in Orpington at 09:40hrs on Saturday, 3 February when it was reported that two males had assaulted a cyclist and attempted to steal his bike," they said. "The cyclist had been left bruised and bleeding.
"Police arrived within minutes but the two males, who had been scared off when a passer-by stopped to help, had already fled the scene.
"Anyone who has any information is asked to contact police on 101 quoting CAD 2181/03Feb. You can also post on X @MetCC or contact us anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."
Howard said it was "terrifying" to see the incident in the flesh.
"You can understand crime rising, because of the cost of living and inflation, people are becoming desperate," he said. "Violent crime is a different thing. Most people have a barrier to that. It is pretty terrifying when you think about it. You just never know. I've had small issues on that road before, people shouting out of cars and stuff, but that's nothing out of the ordinary."
Have you been affected by an issue similar to this incident? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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