Normally, she sells electric bikes. But one night in July, while she partied in Camden, her bike was stolen. So she joined the reconnaissance team of her bike firm, VanMoof, to try to track down her lost set of wheels. Using her smartphone she zeros in on a beacon that pings the bike's location. The tracking system shows her the bike is somewhere in a set of buildings, so Helena and her partner stop to gather more information. Local shopkeepers and restaurant owners say they haven't seen the bicycle, but then a piece of luck. A bin man says he has spotted the unusual silver bike frame at a caravan park. At this stage, to give them a bit of authority the two put on company uniforms, with portable cameras attached, and head to the park. The gate is locked and there is no bell, so they yell "hello" through the gates. A lady appears and stares through the metal bars, clutching at her pink coat. "That's our bike, the silver one and we can either take it or we'll have to call the police," they say. She agrees to fetch her father, who emerges from one of the trailers, opens the gate and tells them to take it back. "Somebody left it there," he says. They unearth it from a pile of 30 other bikes. As they pedal back to the London shop front, they share a bag of Maltesers in celebration.
Helena's bike was made by VanMoof, which builds anti-theft measures throughout the whole bike. If the frame number has been scrubbed away, its signature Bluetooth address is still traceable from a smartphone. The wheels are secured with special theft preventative nuts. It becomes useless as an electric bike the moment it is stolen. And, the bike is easily tracked. If the alarm or the flashing skull sign does not deter a would-be thief, VanMoof offers a £270, three-year service, that will send a team out to chase down your stolen bike. If they don't find it within two weeks the company will replace the bike for free. "We want to prove to thieves that our bikes aren't worth stealing," says Leigh Richards, VanMoof's UK brand manager.