West Belfast priest 'grateful' for support after bicycle stolen
A PRIEST in west Belfast has expressed his thanks for the support he has received after his bicycle was stolen in the city centre.
Fr Martin Magill said he felt "complete shock" after discovering it was stolen while going to the aid of family who had lost a loved one.
It is the second time the cleric has had a bike stolen in the past five years.
Fr Magill, parish priest at St John's on Falls Road, said police told him bike thieves use cordless power tools to quickly remove locks.
He said he has received through friends an offer of a replacement bicycle, but he thanked people for their offers of generosity following an online appeal for information.
"Overall it has been, from something unpleasant, certainly there has been a lot of good," he said.
His red-and-black Carrera bike from Halfords was stolen at Wellington Place, opposite the Scottish Provident Building, on Friday afternoon between 3pm and 4.55pm.
Fr Magill said he had parked his bicycle "in what I thought was a prominent place".
"I had a bike stolen about five years ago, so I have actually made a point of parking it in very prominent places," he said.
He was at a coffee shop when a police officer phoned him asking on behalf of a family for a priest to call with them following a death.
But upon returning to collect his bike, he discovered it had been stolen.
He described his reaction as "complete shock", adding: "I suppose a sense of 'Not again', and 'What am I going to do now?' because at that stage my focus was on going to visit this family."
Fr Magill said he would like the thieves to "get a sense of the shock and annoyance I felt that afternoon".
"Police were telling me cordless power tools was how they operate," he added.
Fr Magill sought help in finding his bike in a post online, which was widely shared and attracted expressions of sympathy and offers of support.
The priest said he was "very grateful for the support, but I have now got myself sorted".
"A friend of a friend has offered me a bike. He is changing his bike, and the bike that he has, he's going to give to me."
Police appealed for anyone with information about the theft to phone them on 101, quoting reference 1450 of 07/08/20, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.