Accessibility links

Breaking News

Russian Consulate Employee Leaves France After Being Questioned In Stolen Bike Scam

A man rides a bike in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. (file photo)
A man rides a bike in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. (file photo)

An employee of the Russian Consulate in Strasbourg is suspected of selling dozens of stolen bicycles, French media reports said on March 22.

According to the reports, a 40-year-old driver for the Russian diplomatic mission was detained for questioning on February 14 but released 24 hours later as police pursued the investigation.

When police wanted to question the suspect for a second time later in February, they were informed by the consulate that he had returned to Russia for "health reasons."

Police launched the probe after an expensive electric bicycle belonging to the former deputy mayor of Strasbourg, Alain Fontanel, was stolen on a street near Strasbourg's diplomatic quarter.

Fontanel turned to police after he saw his bike offered for sale on the Leboncoin website several days later.

Police contacted the seller who agreed to sell the bike at a site just next to the Russian consulate.

The man had a fake receipt of purchase with a Russian consulate stamp along with Fontanel's bike identified by its serial number later, and three other bikes.

Police found out later that some 300 ads for high-quality bikes had been posted on the Leboncoin site since January 2020, representing a potential value of up to 100,000 euros ($120,000).

The investigation continues as prosecutors weigh whether to proceed with a trial even if the suspect remains out of reach.

Based on reporting by AFP and France Bleu

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.