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Charity shop sells customer's pounds 1,200 bike.

A backpacker yesterday told of her horror after her pounds 1,200 bicycle was sold in a charity shop for pounds 10 while she tried on clothing in the dressing room.

Emily Harris collapsed with shock after finding the road bike had vanished when she emerged from the changing room of the shop in Edinburgh.

The 25-year-old, from rural Alaska, had popped into the British Heart Foundation store in Nicolson Street to try on a shirt when the mix-up occurred on June 15. When she was informed it had just been sold she ran out into the street to catch up with the purchaser of her treasured cycle but he had vanished.

The backpacker, who is a fire-eater in a circus, said: 'My knees turned to jelly and I fell down. I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach. I was hysterical.

'The bike's my entire way of life. If he doesn't give it back, the karmic ramifications could be terrible. I don't deserve this, I haven't been bad.' Staff at the shop are now inquiring whether their insurance company will compensate Ms Harris for the loss of the Centurion bike.

Jean Prentice, who sold the bike, said: 'It was a busy Saturday and donations get continually left in the shop, so when this man asked how much the bike was, I said pounds 10.

'We didn't know it belonged to a lady who was in the changing room. She was in a dreadful state. But she should have alerted us before she went in.'

Ms Harris, who is in Scotland with circus troupe Circo Rivo, painstakingly built the road bike four years ago and has lovingly customised the vehicle since then.

She covered the cycle, which she said was 'priceless', in black masking tape so that potential thieves would not realise its value.

The fire-eater has travelled through the US, Canada, Mexico, France, Spain and the UK on the vehicle, attaching her possessions to a 150lb trailer on the back.

Now the trailer is all that remains to remind her of the bike and she has appealed to the middle-aged Asian man who bought it to contact the shop.

A Lothian and Borders spokesman said it was a civil matter and that it was down to the British Heart Foundation whether to reimburse the backpacker.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 25, 2002
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