A TEENAGER whose mountain bike was ripped from its locks while he was studying at college has been left “speechless” after a member of the public came forward with a replacement.

IT student, Luca Pontone had just finished his classes on Tuesday, January 7, when he discovered that both of his locks had been smashed off and his bicycle was missing from a bike shed at Darlington College.

Mr Pontone of Harrowgate Village, who had been given a Voodoo Bantu bicycle worth £450 from his father, described the theft as “devastating” after his main form of transport was taken away.

But after reading about Mr Pontone’s loss, a member of the Youth Offending Service on Gladstone Street got in touch to offer a replacement.

Mr Pontone said: “I was asked to ring a man back about my bike – he told me he wanted to offer me a new bike after he had seen the article in the paper.

“I was in shock, I wasn’t expecting to get another bike yet, or if I was, I’d have had to spend a lot of money.”

With his previous bicycle, Mr Pontone had biked with his group of friends to Middlesbrough, Eaglescliffe and Aycliffe from his home in Darlington.

He said: “It was a real shame, I was on it all of the time but now it is brilliant. I was thinking I’d have to use my savings to buy another bike.”

The Youth Offending Service met with Mr Pontone on Monday to hand over a replacement bike without charge.

He said: “They’ve given me a Carrera Subway, a really good quality bike.

"They even went to the trouble of putting mountain bike tyres on it like my old one.”

The student said he was "over the moon" and couldn’t thank the Youth Offending Service enough.

Mr Pontone believes his bicycle will now be almost impossible to steal – he has secured a space using a ‘bike pod’ and will use three heavy-duty locks.

A spokesperson for Darlington Borough Council said: “Our Youth Offending Service runs a scheme whereby donated bicycles are worked on or recycled by young people engaged with the service. These bikes are then donated to local schools or other worthy causes.

“When one of the team heard about the theft of Luca’s bike, it was agreed that a bicycle could be donated to help him continue his studies in college.”