Most of us have at some point seen a Facebook post or tweet mourning the loss of a stolen bike and imploring followers to keep an eye out for missing property. Sadly, the outcome is rarely positive. However, it does happen – as the story of Steven Lovelock demonstrates.

Lovelock lost his bike last month but had it returned in less than three hours thanks to action from local police who matched the bike to the owner using the BikeRegister database.

Reunited: Steven Lovelock and his bike

The black Genesis was taken from a bike shed in south east London by thieves who destroyed the lock with bolt cutter. Its owner made the alarming discovery on an otherwise normal Monday Morning.

Lovelock purchased his bike via the Cyclescheme, so it was already registered with the BikeRegister database. As well as taking photos and notifying police, he uploaded a photo of the bike to the database at 10.40am, along with the frame number.

What to do When your Bike Gets Stolen

The system is used by UK police forces – and at 11.30am, the lucky Genesis owner got a call from Bromley Police Station, saying that they had the bike in their possession.

Police in hi-visibility jackets policing crowd control at a UK event

Police told him that two men had been seen acting suspiciously and riding two expensive bikes in Bromley at 4am that Monday morning.

Officers had gone over to question them and the suspects had run away. They had ditched the bikes but the police managed to catch one of the thieves and held him in custody. Later that day they traced one of the bikes back to its owner via BikeRegister.

Now reunited with his bike, Lovelock says: “I collected my bike a few days later. It was in fairly good condition, only missing toe clips as the thieves had torn them off. The suspect the police had caught pleaded guilty to burglary as there was overwhelming evidence against him - including CCTV footage and the fact that he was found in possession of my bike, which was registered to me as the legal owner.

"I am now telling everyone I know that they should register their bike as soon as possible."

“I am now telling everyone I know that they should register their bike as soon as possible. I am also going to invest in one of BikeRegister’s bike marking kits to visibly mark my recovered bike so that police will immediately know that my bike is registered if it is ever stolen and recovered again.

“Overall, I am very happy with how things ended up. I am really glad to have got my bike back and so quickly. I just need to improve my security a little bit more now!"

Bike theft is a horrible thing - read our guide on how to avoid it here, and check out the BikeRegister site for more information about their services.