French police uncover suspect linked to hundreds of bicycle thefts at Russian consulate
A puncture operation carried out by French police to help a former mayor of Strasbourg recover his stolen bicycle has identified the suspected bicycle thief as an employee of the city’s Russian consulate.
The 40-year-old suspect, who worked as a driver at the consulate, was questioned by police on February 14 but was released after 24 hours in police custody. reports France Bleu.
But when officers attempted to question him a second time, they were told he had returned to Russia for “health reasons”.
Alain Fontanel, former deputy mayor of the Alsatian city, which has a large diplomatic community due to being one of the two seats of the European Parliament, had spotted his bike for sale on the Leboncoin online marketplace.
Police contacted the seller of the electric bike on Friday 28.1, which was sold for around half of its original price of € 3,000, and arranged to meet with him near the Russian consulate.
The suspect produced a fake receipt with a consular stamp, and officers were able to identify Fontanel’s bicycle by its serial number and also recovered three other bicycles.
They also identified around 300 listings on Leboncoin for high-end bikes that had been posted since January of last year for a total value of € 100,000.
Although the suspect has left France, prosecutors can continue to try the case in absentia.