A RARE army motorbike, stolen twice from its owner, has been returned after a youth was spotted riding it — next to a police station.

The distinctive Armstrong MT500 bike is now back with Patrick McGrath, from Halliwell, thanks to an eagle-eyed reader of The Bolton News who alerted police.

The bike was first spotted in Church Street, Westhoughton, on Wednesday by a resident, who reported it to police at 11.15am after reading about it in The Bolton News.

Police went to check it out but the bike had gone.

Later, at about 1pm, the bike was spotted being ridden around a car park behind the Westhoughton police post in Pavilion Square.

A teenager was detained at the back of the square and has been bailed pending further inquiries.

Mr McGrath said he was devastated when thieves stole the bike, which was chained to a wall outside his home, between 3am and 10.30am last Thursday, January 23.

It is the second time the bike had been stolen. The first time was last summer when it was later found abandoned in a field.

Mr McGrath said he was worried that this time it may have been “stolen to order”.

The 22-year-old said: “I was in a shop when I got a call to say my bike had been found.

“Putting the story in the paper definitely did the trick. I am just overjoyed to see it again. I can guarantee it won’t be getting stolen for a third time.”

Mr McGrath has had the bike, which was built by Armstrong-CCC M Motorcycles in Bolton in 1986, for about 18 months. He thinks there may only be one other vintage bike like it in Bolton.

He now faces a repair bill of hundreds of pounds, as the bike was returned with no number plate, no indicators and damaged mirrors.

Mr McGrath said he would be investing in extra security measures, including CCTV, to ensure the bike is not stolen again.

PC Phil Burrows said: “Thanks to The Bolton News people across the borough have been keeping an eye out for this bike.

“He was detained just at the back of the police post in Westhoughton.”