The six men returned from a tour of Liverpool’s stadium to find to their horror that their bikes, equipment and clothing – reportedly worth more than £30,000 – had been stolen from outside the ground.
The cyclists had intended to ride a 96km route in aid of a Hillsborough charity around the city of Liverpool as a mark of respect for the 25th anniversary of the tragedy that left 96 fans dead.
Campaigners for the charity Cycle 4 Sick Children have spoken of their disgust and shock at the incident with the men having hoped to raise funds for families of the Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough in 1989.
James Leech of the Justice for the 96 campaign told the Daily Mail: “This is a truly despicable crime.
“These six fundraisers were riding in support of a charity and deserve to be welcomed to Liverpool.
“They were guests in our city for a good cause. Instead they were left stranded without their bikes. It really is sick.”
Liam Murphy, who along with his wife Stacey founded the charity, said they were all devastated and begged the thieves to return the bikes.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Chief Inspector Chris Hitchell said: “This is an absolutely terrible thing to happen to anyone visiting our city but it is made worse by the fact that this group are here to raise money for charity and a cause which is dear to so many Liverpudlians’ hearts.
“Everything possible will be done to identify the offenders responsible for this despicable theft and I would call on people within the local area to help us get these bikes back quickly.
“The victims have travelled all the way over from Ireland to raise money for the families of the Hillsborough victims and they are understandably distraught at what has happened.
“We and the community will do whatever we can to help them so that they can still take part in tomorrow’s ride.”
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