More than 500 owners have been reunited with their stolen bikes thanks to a social media website that utilises a community that “loves their gossips”.
Omar Terywall, began the project in 2019 after hating seeing the “bad guys getting away with things”, he told The Telegraph.
WATCH: Omar Terywall featuring in a BBC show, Frontline Fightback, talking about his community page that he set up to help recover stolen bikes in Cambridge.
The businessman, 44, who founded a rowing company, was inspired to provide a solution to bike theft in his home town of Cambridge, after witnessing someone stealing a bike.
Mr Terywall explained: “[I] happened to see somebody cycling along with a very expensive electric bike balanced on their shoulders – it still had a lock around the front wheel.”
Instead of ignoring the balancing act Mr Terywall, 44, stopped his car and confronted the thief. “Everyone’s driving past and I thought I don’t wanna be that guy who just drives past,” he told The Telegraph.
Luckily, a police car drove past at that moment and helped to stop the bike bandit in their tracks. The bike was returned, and – after a local newspaper picked up the story – Mr Terywall was encouraged to set up a Facebook page and encourage the community to tackle bike theft.
People who have had their bikes stolen can post in the group, with users helping to locate the stolen cycles.
Fondness for gossip
He believes the page’s initial success can be attributed to the community’s fondness for gossip and the public exposure of thieves on the page.
He acknowledged that the community “love their gossips”, even suggesting that the community enjoy “seeing the downfall of certain people and whatnot”.
However, he added: “It’s now become more of a community page,” where everyone is the eyes and ears of Cambridge.
However, Mr Terywall admitted his involvement in the page has taken a toll on his personal life, saying that “more than 50 per cent of my time gets spent on this completely voluntary page”.
“[But] we’ve got to a stage where I can actually now step back and I can just leave it to this team of moderators. And that’s how it should be: it should be a page that’s run by the community, not by any one particular individual.
“Obviously, I started the initiative. And maybe the face of it, but it really is a community led effort,” he said.
You can visit Facebook page Stolen Bikes of Cambridge here.