Bed-Stuy Bike Shop eyes relocation after string of burglaries

Co-owners John Paredes, Briton Malcomson, and David Kellman of the Bed-Stuy Bike Shop.
Photo by Ben Verde

A cooperatively owned bike shop in Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Restoration Plaza is looking to move after a string of burglaries they say the plaza’s security did nothing to prevent. 

The Bed-Stuy Bike Shop, a Transport Workers Union-affiliated shop which has occupied a storefront in the plaza between Fulton and Herkimer Streets since 2019, has been robbed three separate times this fall — twice in the span of 24 hours by the same perp, leaving its worker-owners exasperated and looking for a new location. 

“We definitely don’t feel that we can stay here anymore,” said co-owner John Paredes. “We don’t really trust the security presence that is here. In both instances, just from the footage, it just seems like they weren’t here.” 

According to Paredes, the first robbery occurred on Oct. 28 at around 3 am, when a thief smashed open the glass pane door and made off with five bikes over the course of an hour before security guards eventually chased them off. 

Hours later, after cops had set up a crime scene, Paredes told Brooklyn Paper the same thief snuck back in in a different set of clothes and managed to make off with two more bikes.

The co-owners fault the plaza’s security for not being present enough. When the shop was broken into the first time in October, they say no one from security notified any of them — and they didn’t learn of it until an employee showed up for work the next morning. 

“It’s upsetting that we’ve been failed by these services that everyone contributes towards,” said co-owner Briton Malcomson. 

Management at Restoration Plaza did not respond to a message seeking comment. 

The perp was eventually arrested, the co-owners said, and some of the stolen bikes were recovered but damaged. The group wasn’t interested in pressing charges, focusing instead on being made whole through insurance claims. Most of the stolen bikes belonged to customers who were having their rides serviced. 

“Some of the bikes we get in are 30, 40, 50 years old, they’re not easily replaceable,” said Malcomson. “It’s not fun trying to explain to customers.” 

They also worry about the damage to their reputation of reliability the thefts could cause. 

“We’ve been reliable, everyday we say we’re going to be open we’re here surveying the community trying to help people get their bikes fixed,” Malcomson said. “The last thing we want is that reputation to be affected.” 

On Thanksgiving Day, the shop was robbed again — this time in broad daylight. Co-owners say two men tossed another brick through the recently replaced glass pane at around 1 pm on Nov. 25 and made off with two bikes. Neither of the two most recent crooks have been arrested and the bikes have not been recovered.

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Overall, burglaries are down 32 percent year-to-date in the 79th Precinct, where the Bed-Stuy Bike Shop is located. According to Police Department data, there were a total of 216 burglaries from Jan. 1 through Nov. 28, compared to 318 during the same time period last year.

Still, the shop has remained closed since the second break-in, as the co-owners say they no longer feel comfortable keeping bikes in the shop overnight. They’re currently running an online fundraiser to pay for relocation costs as they search for a new space. 

The co-owners say they plan on staying within Bedford-Stuyvesant, where they have built a strong customer base over the last two years, especially as bicycling has surged in popularity amid the pandemic. 

“We love being in Bed-Stuy and in this area, we love our newly formed but pretty strong customer base,” said Malcomson.