Three ago weeks ago I suffered the same misfortune many Wroclawians have no doubt experienced – my bicycle got stolen. This can happen anywhere of course, and although I'm upset at losing my bike, what has really made my blood boil is the incompetent police response.
I don't expect the entire city's men in blue to start a heavy-handed, relentless hunt for the thief, but I do believe they should do better when presented with a lead as obvious as the one I provided them.
Allow me to explain …
My bicycle was stolen in the same place I usually park it: chained up in front of the EkoCentrum in the Nadodrze district. As soon as I saw it was gone, my first reaction was to look on some of the online auction sites. To my surprise, it didn't take too long to find my bike. Advertised on OLX, the bicycle offered was the same brand, same colour, was posted on the same day and was being sold in my district for a bargain basement price. Worryingly, the same seller also had a broad selection of several other “second hand” bikes.
Curious about the seller, I decided to call him and pretend to be interested in buying the bicycle. The man on the other end of the phone spoke rather boorishly and had absolutely no idea when I questioned him about the bike and its components. The only thing he could say is that "It's a good bike and I want a quick sale".
Seeing as this was just simply too much of a coincidence, I promptly popped into the local police station to report my case. Once in the door I was attended by an unwelcoming police officer who told me there was nobody available and that I should return in an hour.
This was a tad frustrating but I gladly returned sixty minutes later with a printout of the OLX offer and all of the details of the bike and its theft clearly written down. Thankfully this time a friendly police officer was available and It was possible to note my case. Given that I had handed over the OLX ad and there are cameras monitoring the area where the bike was stolen, I felt I had reasons to be hopeful and left mildly confident that I would see my bike again soon.
The following day I dropped by the police station, where I was given the number of the officer supposed to deal with my case. Unfortunately when I called the officer had absolutely no idea what I was talking about, but after bit of digging, he eventually found my case and said that no one had been assigned to it yet.
Feeling pretty miffed at the lack of action, I felt I had to visit the station again to complain. This time an officer told me he that he had in fact called the seller, who by that time had already sold the bike. I was informed that the police would go to his house and later call me with an update. After a week, the call sadly failed to come.
Noticeably angrier, I returned to the police station to find out what was happening. On arrival I was given a number to call, and after I dialing I was told the police didn’t have time to look into my case and that they would call me when they have an update. Perhaps I had held the local police in too high a regard, but at the time I couldn't help but ask myself how on earth they couldn't have tracked the thief down.
I have of course lost all hope of getting my bike back as the reality of the situation hits home. Although I am admittedly upset by the loss of my bike, what frustrates me more is the stupidity of this case, while and I am equally concerned about others who could suffer the same misfortune.
My advice? Invest in a good lock, because if someone sees a bike they fancy, there doesn't seem to be much of a police deterrent to stop them taking it. Having said that, sometimes even the strongest of locks can't always protect you either – my girlfriend's bike had its seat stolen the other day, something that can only have been done with the aid of professional tools.
Wroclaw is gaining more and more cyclists, which is a great thing to see. It's just a shame that so many thieves are cashing in on the situation and are getting away with it time and time again.