There’s been a lot of bicycle theft showing up in my Next Door feed over the last year. Global pandemics with their concomitant economic hardships have put all kinds of strain on people. But this brazen act takes the cake. Robbers literally broke through the front door of The Peddler Bike Shop in Hyde Park area of Austin, Texas with a probably stolen truck. I happened to see it on the website for the news station where I get my weather, and I was aghast. It is the closet shop to me, and I’ve been going there longer than any shops here. I also know the owner a bit. (Ironically, my first real bike that I ever bought myself I got from here, was stolen on Xmas Eve maybe 10 years ago.) This was very sad news so on my daily ride I stopped by to pay my condolences.
There’s also video you can see on KXAN.com, the local NBC affiliate. They show security camera video from a nearby coffee shop. They interview the owner AJ, with whom I’ve ridden a few times a while back. He is no slouch on the road and quite a mountain biker, by the way. It turns out that a number of the bikes that were stolen were not owned by the shop, but by customers, so were awaiting repair.
Guys at the shop confirmed this and they were still figuring out what was missing so they could amend the police report and file for insurance. One griped that the cops probably won’t do anything about it. I’d hate to be in their shoes and have to call the customers. “Uh, I have some news about your bike…” As AJ says, he will have to pay out of pocket and hope for insurance to reimburse him.
But it’s not the first time, nor the only shop to have been hit. As the story says, Mellow Johnny’s downtown was burglarized. A bike that a certain former bicyclist from Austin rode in the Tour de France was on display, and thieves got that. They probably didn’t even know what it was. One shop, MonkeyWrench Bikes, had to close due to the pandemic and thefts. (Not that I wish anyone bad karma, but that guy was never very nice to me.) Another, Cycle Progression, put in steel bars. While their door has been messed with, thieves haven’t gotten in..
I asked the Peddler guys if they were going to do something like that, and the answer was we’ll see. Here are my photos of the door. The blue sign (hidden behind the poster for the Mamma Jamma Ride I posted about in May), says “Hell Yes, We’re OPEN.” Don’t mess with Texas… bike shops.
While there’s an ongoing debate about the funding and duties of the Austin Police Department, one would hope that they would do their job, or at least something about a big dollar crime. As I wrote recently in 6 Reasons Why You Should Use Bike Index, you have a much better shot at getting your bike back if you register it. I also registered my bikes with APD, but as AJ mentions, spreading the word is a good way to alert more people. That could also increase the chances someone sees one of the stolen bikes and reports it. With a sophisticated operation like this, which also employed a van to load the stolen bikes into, there’s a good chance the bikes are in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, or maybe even out of state by now.
I’m an agnostic atheist, but if I’m wrong, and there is a hell, I hope that there’s a special place in it for bike thieves. This place basically looks like a spin class room, full of Pelotons. And there they have to sit, grinding it out day after day, listening to EDM (Electronic Dance Music). Water is provided, but it causes diarrhea. There are snacks, but they cause constipation. Well, one can dream. In the mean time. Lock your bikes and share this with your Local Bike Shop. A cautionary tale for sure. If your LBS doesn’t have good security procedures in place, maybe it’s time they do. Stay frosty out there!
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