Glasgow & West Scotland

Glasgow woman hands out 'life lecture' to bike thief

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Media captionGlasgow mum confronts thief who stole son's bike

A Glaswegian mother who handed out a hard-hitting "life lecture" to a teenager caught with her son's stolen bike has been hailed a "supermum".

Vonnie Sandlan used social media to trace the bike after it was stolen in Glasgow city centre on Saturday night.

In an often hilarious Facebook video, the brave mum said she posed as a buyer before confronting the boy.

She won plaudits after revealing that she told the boy he could "end up in Barlinnie" - Glasgow's prison.

She then gave him a hug.

Ms Sandlan, the former president of NUS Scotland, even told the boy to think about college or an apprenticeship "if school wasn't working out for him".

She said: "Part of me really hopes that the kid gets in trouble and it properly scares him and that's enough.

"Part of me hopes that he just genuinely takes it as an opportunity to make some better life choices."

Image copyright Vonnie Sandlan

The drama unfolded after her son Findlay's bike was taken from outside McDonald's on Argyle Street at about 21:30 on Saturday.

He had bought the cycle just a few days earlier and the theft had left the 16-year-old "distraught", Ms Sandlan told her followers.

"He's been less upset when pets have died," she said. "He used his birthday money for it, he'd been saving up for ages. It's a big deal."

She said she reported the theft to Police Scotland but understood they could not deal with it as they had other priorities.

Instead, she turned detective and launched a social media campaign in a bid to find her son's prized possession.

By Sunday, she had received a tip off that it was for sale on the Gumtree website.

After checking that it was definitely Findlay's bike, she called the police. She said they supported her plan to arrange to retrieve the bike.

While her friend filmed the meeting from a nearby bus stop, Ms Sandlan and her husband, Bob, met the boy with the bike outside The Forge shopping centre.

'Stop stealing'

In her Facebook Live post, she said: "The kid came over and he stopped in front of the bike and I was giving it big smiles and went over and put my hand on the bike and I said 'Thanks so much for coming out to meet us on such a miserable day as well, we would have came to your house'.

"And I looked underneath the frame and I checked the serial number, then I just said 'This is my bike'. And the kid just burst into tears."

She went on: "So this kid is just like crying in front of me, saying 'Is it really your bike?' And I said 'Yeah, it's really my bike - it's not your bike, is it?'

"And then he's like 'It's my first time, it's my first time' and I was like 'I think we both know that's not true, pal'.

"And then somehow I ended up like pure giving him a life lecture on how this is a turning point in his life and it could have been so much worse if it had been somebody else who had came and just like battered him to get the bike back off him.

"And what he needed to be doing was thinking of his future and he said, 'I'm only 15'.

"And I said, you know what, if school's not working out for you, you need to start thinking about college or like go and do an apprenticeship or something. Stop stealing because you're terrible at it and you're going to end up in Barlinnie."

Bike register

The video, which ends with Findlay agreeing that his mum is the "best in the world", has been viewed thousands of times since it was posted on Sunday night.

A police spokesman said: "Always use 101 in circumstances like this. Let us know what's happening and let us deal with the confrontation side of things."

Gumtree said it did not tolerate stolen items on its website.

A spokesperson said: "We encourage users to report anything suspicious to us through the 'report' button that sits on every ad on our website.

"Our dedicated safety team will then investigate. If you are concerned that an item you're viewing is stolen, don't buy it - report it to the police.

"We work regularly with law enforcement to share information and aid their investigations.

"We're pleased to hear that Vonnie and her son Findlay have been reunited with their bike, and recommend that all bike owners register their serial number with a service such as Bike Register."

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