Eighteen bike owners were facing life in the slow lane on Monday after their beloved wheels were swiped while being rehabbed in a Prospect Heights bike shop.
The bikes — along with over $4,000 in brand new locks, saddles and pedals — were taken during two daring basement break-ins at Brooklyn Bike and Board on Vanderbilt Avenue between Dean and Bergen Streets.
The stolen two wheelers ranged from a 10-year-old Schwinn getting a tune-up for the summer to two pricey 2010 models, assistant manager Ryan Dausch explained.
“[The customers] were shocked, but were very understanding except for one guy who called the police on us,” Dausch said. “The cops showed up and we had to show them the police report we filed that morning.”
Since most of the stolen wheels were older bikes undergoing repairs, owners will be reimbursed with bikes that have been rebuilt at the store, Dausch explained. The ones with newer models will be offered something comparable.
Workers said the break-in happened after closing on June 4. But they did get an early warning, albeit a small one when, one week earlier, a single bike disappeared from the basement, Dausch said.
The disappearance was a bit of a mystery, though it should not have been, given that the basement door isn’t accessible from the shop, but only from the hallway leading to the upstairs apartments.
The thief had apparently been buzzed into the apartment building, then forced open the door to the basement.
Dausch and his workers’ suspicions were confirmed early Saturday morning when they showed up for work and learned that someone — possibly the same person who took a bike a week earlier — had snapped the lock to the basement door and plucked bikes right off their racks.
Employees re-fortified the basement door — this time with two locks — but the brazen burglar returned the following night, pulling the door right off its hinges, they told police.
The thief made off with the locks, pedals and seats, but must have been frightened off. Two bikes were found in the hallway in mid-rollout.
“We’re reinforcing all the locks and speaking with some companies about installing our own cameras, and spreading the word via internet and phone calls to neighboring shops,” Brooklyn Bike and Board owner Brian Gluck wrote on the store Web page on Monday. “May god strike this man down as I write this.”
Gluck may mean that literally; he recently made a video promoting his store wearing a shirt reading, “Bike thieves shot on sight.”
As the investigation continues, Dausch is hopeful the stolen bikes will be recovered.
“We’ve been scanning Craigslist and called other shops, asking them to keep an eye out for them,” Dausch explained. “But they’re probably going to end up in a yard sale in Staten Island.”