SigmaSport is a top-end road shop and gets more than its fair share of spoke-sniffers and tech-heads but Iftikhar Rasul – shown above – seems to be another class of customer altogether.
"Rasul used to visit our store about once every two to four weeks. He was the kind of customer who asked numerous questions to which he already seemed to know the answer but never purchased anything," said Whittingham.
"Things changed last Thursday afternoon when he visited our store to enquire about spare parts for a Pinarello Prince. While a member of staff was upstairs in our workshop getting the parts, Rasul keyed the top-tubes on two bikes. He is certainly not an aggrieved customer as we have never sold him anything to get aggrieved about!"
The damage was noticed a short while after Rasul left and a quick check on the store’s CCTV system revealed that the culprit was Rasul.
"Rasul returned yesterday and once he was shown the CCTV footage he owned up to what he had done and agreed to pay for the damage," said Whittingham.
However, in a locked shop and with other customers ushered out, Rasul was unable to pay the full cost of the damage so a call was made to the police.
"The police verified his identity and have given him two weeks to pay or he will be arrested and charged," said Whittingham.
Rasul lives in south-east London and is behind a website – irasul.com – which claims to sell Pinarello and Colnago bikes as well De Rosa frames.
BikeBiz reached Rasul on his mobile phone this morning. At first he admitted he was Mr Rasul and was happy to talk about his website to a reporter from a bike trade mag but when the conversation was switched to Sigmasport’s CCTV footage, Rasul said: "We went there….[Pause] Er, where are you from? [Pause] The actual person you need to speak to is the owner."
The man who claimed to be Rasul then decided to change his identity and revealed he was, in fact, Mr Johns, the mechanic at irasul.com.
When asked why he had originally said he was Mr Rasul, ‘Mr Johns’ replied:
"I thought you said ‘is that irasul?’ That’s the name of our website."
All very odd.