The Cyclist bike shop
- A bike thief took off with a $5,000 BH road bike in the middle of a test ride.
- The thief had asked employees at The Cyclist, a California bike shop, to try the shop’s most expensive bike.
- The Cyclist is offering a $1,000 reward for the bike’s return or any information leading to the thief’s arrest.
On Tuesday afternoon, a man walked into The Cyclist, a family-owned bike shop in Costa Mesa, California, and took a “test ride” on a $5,000 bike.
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The only problem? He never came back.
Store general manager Anthony Karambellas greeted the man and assisted him that day. The Cyclist is a relatively busy bike shop that, Karambellas said, sees hundreds of customers on a weekly basis.
“He said he’d never been in before, and was in the market for a new road bike and wanted to see what we had,” Karambellas said. “I chatted with him about the bike fitting process, and we talked a little about racing. He definitely knew what he was talking about.
“It hit close to home because of how smoothly he pulled this off,” Karambellas said.
Watch: The thief moments before taking the bike for a “test ride.” Footage courtesy of The Cyclist bike shop.
The man browsed for about five minutes, then expressed interest in the shop’s most expensive bike: a BH Ultralight EVO Disc, which retails for about $5,000. BHs are manufactured in Spain and hard to find in the U.S. Karambellas said he and other employees were impressed with how much the man knew about the rare bike.
To gain the staff’s trust, the man kept asking knowledgeable questions, inquiring about components and sizes. The display model was his size, a medium, so he asked to take it for a test ride. Karambellas agreed, saying he just needed some form of identification. The man handed over a driver’s license.
“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.
Karambellas put some flat pedals on the BH and the pair took it outside. The man rode a few laps in the parking lot, and stopped to make conversation with Karambellas about bike fitting options. When he remounted to take what Karambellas thought would be a few more loops, the man instead booked it to the end of the lot, then sprinted up the shoulder of a busy adjacent road, heading 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.”
Shop employees called the Costa Mesa Police Department, who arrived within 10 minutes. According to police, the ID was real, but based on what they saw from security footage, they didn’t believe it belonged to the man. The Cyclist is offering a $1,000 reward for the bike’s safe return or any information leading to the thief’s arrest.
Whereas most attempted bike shop thefts involve people grabbing bikes and trying to run out the door, Karambellas said, the gall of pedaling off during a test ride took everyone by surprise.
“We all just sat there in shock,” Karambellas said. “This guy looked, rode, and acted like anyone else who would come in looking for a high-end bike. This was very calculated.”