A string of burglaries with the same brazen modus operandi has hit six downtown bike stores in the last week. In each case, one person or pair of thieves spend about 30 minutes removing a pane of glass from the store windows, then make off with specific bikes, mostly high end. Whoever is doing this seems to know exactly what they're looking for.
West End Bikes was robbed at 8am last Saturday morning, says owner Mark Ontiveros. "Our security video shows a man methodically starting to remove the molding on our door, it took about half an hour," says Ontiveros. West End is in the busy neighborhood on SW Stark 11th Avenue so when people walked by on the sidewalk, Ontiveros says the video shows the thief sitting down in the doorway: "I think people walking by thought he was a bum just sitting in the doorway, unfortunately there's so many people in doorways, you walk by and don't think it's suspicious."
Once the window was out, the man and a partner headed to the back of the store with bolt cutters and stole a 2011 Specialized Roubaix Pro Size 56 Dura Ace bike worth $4700. "This bike stands out, they'll have to move it out of town," says Ontiveros.
Up at 21st Avenue Bikes on NW 21st, Kyle Von Hoetzendorff says a break-in last Wednesday night took about 45 minutes. The pair of thieves took a bunch of bikes accessories and two Specialized road bikes for a total haul costing the shop about $10,000. "It definitely wasn't a smash and grab, it looked like they kind of knew what bike they wanted," says Von Hoetzendorff.
Downtown shops Performance Bicycles, Rack Attack, Integrated Health, and the US Outdoor Store were the victims of similar thefts since November 1st—the thieves took knives and high-end bikes.
Two of the stolen bikes have turned up at Occupy Portland, according to a police statement. Rack Attack's Curtis Deegan says one of his two stolen bikes (a Fat Tire Farm constructed Specialized bike worth $2600) was spotted by an employee as he biked to work past the Occupy Camp on SW 4th and Madison. The second was spotted by a Portland police officer.
Overall, bike theft appears to have dropped in the city before these recent incidents. The police are offering a cash reward for info leading to a conviction in this case, so call 503-823-HELP (4357) if you've got a tip on the thefts. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for suspicious people hanging around outside bike shop windows at odd hours.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!