A CYCLIST became so fed up with theft in the city he used boltcutters to steal his own bike to see if anyone would notice.
And nobody stopped him. Nine times.
Chris Graham pedalled to nine spots in the city centre just to prove how easy it was for thieves to get away with your bike unchallenged.
The 27-year-old was quizzed just once by a passer-by, who then promptly ignored the student as he sliced through a bike lock.
He said: “I really couldn’t believe I got away with it.
“The first time I did it I was really nervous. But I soon discovered people would rather ignore a bike theft.”
In December, the Oxford Mail revealed bike thefts in the city had risen to their highest level for six years.
Police figures showed 1,380 bicycles were stolen since April 1 last year, the equivalent of more than five a day.
Canadian-born Mr Graham, who is reading history and politics at Oxford University, admitted he was surprised no-one stopped him.
He said: “One man was chaining his bike up about two metres from where I was using boltcutters on mine, and he actually turned his head to look away.
“Only once did someone ask if I was stealing the bike. Even then, I just said yes and cycled off.”
Among the locations Mr Graham targeted last week were outside the Radcliffe Camera, Blackwell Bookshop, in Broad Street and New College – all in the middle of the day.
Mr Graham was filmed by a friend while he stole his bike.
The video shows hundreds of people milling around the city centre, many of whom seemed to be taking no notice of what Mr Graham was doing.
He said: “I’m not criticising people for not doing anything. We’ve all been guilty of that at some stage.
“I think one of the problems is in that situation people just don’t know what to do and if they look away they don’t have to make any decision. It’s sad we feel we can’t intervene anymore, but it’s true of modern life anywhere.”
Mr Graham originally came up with the idea when his bike was stolen in New York.
But after he moved to Oxford to study, he decided to test his theory after being told by friends about thefts in the city.
Thames Valley Police spokesman Danny Donovan said people should always contact police if they see a thief in action.
He said: “We would encourage members of public to call us immediately if they see any crime in progress.
“Our officers would rather investigate an incident that turns out to be nothing, than risk missing the chance to catch a criminal and make our streets safer.”
Mr Graham said: “I’m not saying I would get physically involved, but I think I would now be more inclined to say something.
“If you disturb or draw attention to someone stealing a bike, or committing another crime, they are likely to run off to avoid being caught.
“I guess thieves may think twice if they know people won’t put up with crime.”