The relationship amongst cyclists and bike shops is typically one of respect.
However, last Tuesday afternoon a man browsing the latest range of bikes in The Cyclist bike shop in Costa Mesa, California placed this relationship into question after stealing a high end road bike whilst on a test ride.
The man in question showed a particular interest in the BH Ultralight EVO Disc, which retails around $5,000.
Acting very knowledgable and asking specific questions on the BH bikes - which are rare to find in the USA - the crook asked if he could take the bike for a test ride around the block.
Store general manager Anthony Karambellas told Bicycling (opens in new tab) that he required identification, which he duly handed over but rose suspicions from Karambellas.
“He definitely didn’t look as old as the ID said he was, but I wasn’t going to ruin a $5,000 sale because someone looks younger than their ID says,” Karambellas said.
As shown by CCTV footage provided by The Cyclist bike shop, the man casually walking outside of the shop with the bike, looking and sounding like a genuinely interested customer.
The soon-to-be-shoplifter completed a few laps of the car park, before reconvening with Karambellas to ask about potential bike fitting procedures.
The man then remounted the bike and headed out of the car park, sprinting up the side of a busy adjacent road, into oncoming traffic and around the corner.
“I knew immediately when he turned that corner, at that speed and in the direction he did, that he was not coming back,” Karambellas said.
“I hopped on one of our electric bikes we had up front, but by the time I started riding after him, he was already a couple corners ahead of me and I couldn’t see the direction he went.”
According to police, who arrived within 10 minutes of being called by shop employees. The ID handed over by the bike bandit was real, but as suspected didn't belong to the man.
What haunts Karambellas the most is the way the theft was carried out, as usual thefts involve people making a quick escape out of the door of the shop.
However the brashness to steal the bike in plain sight on a test ride took everyone by surprise.
“This guy looked, rode, and acted like anyone else who would come in looking for a high-end bike. This was very calculated.”
The Cyclist Bike Shop are offering a $1,000 reward for the bike's safe return or any information leading to the the arrest of the thief.
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Paul Knott is a fitness and features writer, who has also presented Cycling Weekly videos as well as contributing to the print magazine as well as online articles. In 2020 he published his first book, The Official Tour de France Road Cycling Training Guide (Welbeck), a guide designed to help readers improve their cycling performance via cherrypicking from the strategies adopted by the pros.
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