A prolific bike thief was finally caught after the frustrated mother of one of his victims tracked him down and protested outside his house for three days with a “Where’s My Bike Dave?” placard.
David Seagar, 49, stole eight bicycles in a summer-long spree last year, sparking the sit-in protest by Fiona Bateman.
It came after she spotted him steal her son’s mountain bike from their carport on a neighbour’s CCTV system.
Ms Bateman reported the crime to police, but believed “not much was happening”, so she decided to take matters into her own hands.
Seagar, of Witney, Oxfordshire, was repeatedly identified with the help of social media users, helping the mother to find out where he lived.
Ms Bateman then sat outside his house over the course of three days with the placard, cheered on by social media users.
Members of the Spotted Witney Facebook group even dropped off a hot chocolate and a bunch of flowers in a show of support.
Following pressure from the protest, Seagar was convicted on Friday Sept 15 at Oxford Crown Court.
He was sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, with an order to complete a drug rehabilitation scheme and a “thinking skills” programme.
Following the sentencing, Ms Bateman said she was disappointed Seagar had avoided a prison term.
She said: “It’s just frustrating that he got a slap on the wrist. Where are the bikes? How about buying my son a new bike? We can’t afford the four, five, six hundred pounds to replace it.
“He stole so my son has to now walk. But that’s OK, just as long as Dave doesn’t feel aggrieved.”
In court he was shown footage of one theft that was captured on CCTV, but Seager denied it was him.
He was said to have used bolt cutters to slice his way through locks in order to get away with bicycles ranging in value from a few hundred pounds to an e-bike worth more than £2,000.
One victim was said to have returned from a doctor’s appointment to find that his bicycle, left locked up outside a GP surgery in Witney, had vanished.
Another was taken from outside a leisure centre in Witney, the court heard.
The defendant was said to have come across as uninterested when he was interviewed by a probation officer for a pre-sentence report. Passages were read out by the judge, in which the officer described Seager as showing a “sense of entitlement” by stealing bikes “deliberately and brazenly”.
Seager’s barrister, Peter du Feu, said his client was “quite upset” by the report, and said he was “embarrassed” both by the probation officer’s words and the fact he had stolen others’ property.