Six cyclists due to take part in a charity bike ride to raise money for the victims of the Hillsborough disaster have had their bikes stolen from outside Anfield.
The six Irishmen were taking a tour of the stadium before setting off on a 96km bike ride, but when they returned to their parked vehicle, they found that their window had been smashed and in excess of £30,000 worth of items—including their bikes, clothing and equipment—had been stolen, per Paul Collins of the Mail Online.
The incident was reported here by the Liverpool Echo, who are trying to help find the cyclists’ stolen gear:
The men are all members of the charity Cycle 4 Sick Children and were looking to ride to raise money for the families of the 96 Liverpool supporters that died at Hillsborough 25 years ago.
Naturally, the news of this incident has been met with outrage by those campaigners associated with the disaster. James Leech of the Justice for the 96 campaign branded the theft “despicable” and “sick,” while commenters on the Hillsborough Family Support Group’s Facebook page branded the thieves “scum” and “disgusting.”
Unfortunately, the men had their passports and money stolen too, which left them with no choice but to return home to Ireland without completing their ride. Liam Murphy co-founded the charity, and he admitted he was "devastated" when he realised what had happened, per Collins' report:
When we came out from the stadium we discovered the van window had been smashed and all bikes, passports, equipment and cash had been stolen. I feel sick to the stomach actually.
It’s really hard to put in words what this has done to us as we were over here to support the victims of Hillsborough.
With it being the 25th anniversary and so many of us being Liverpool fans, it is a subject that is close to our heart but this has just devastated us.
Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram branded those who committed the theft “scumbags,” per BBC, and took to Twitter to give an indication as to what the missing bikes look like:
This is one of the bikes stolen from outside Anfield yesterday. pic.twitter.com/rT4GQmJ7Fo Can you help locate it and the other items? Please RT— Steve Rotheram (@SteveRotheramMP) June 29, 2014
For an incident like this to occur is deplorable enough in isolation, but the location of the theft and the cause that these men were riding for really does leave a bitter taste.
The overwhelming majority of those living in the city have been hugely supportive when it comes to the Hillsborough disaster, and the wretched behaviour of some mindless individuals should not tarnish that.
Hopefully the equipment will be found and those who carried out such a despicable act will see the consequences. Then, in an ideal world, the six men who were looking to raise money for such an admirable cause can return to Merseyside at a later date to complete their ride.