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Bike Thieves Use Fake IDs To Steal From Non-Profit And Bike Shops

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This man allegedly stole a bike from Chicago non-profit Working Bikes. (Photo provided by Paul Fitzgerald of Working Bikes)

This man allegedly stole a bike from Chicago non-profit Working Bikes. (Photo provided by Paul Fitzgerald of Working Bikes)

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By Mason Johnson

To prevent customers from stealing bikes, shops across the city often require an ID and credit card before letting someone take one of their cycles for a test ride. This process has worked well, until recently, that is…

Working Bikes in the Pilsen neighborhood is more than just a bicycle shop, they’re also a 501(c)3 non-profit. Repairing discarded and donated bikes, Working Bikes donates thousands of bikes to impoverished local and global communities every year. They also run a shop where individuals can support Working Bikes by buying one of their impressively restored bicycles.

It was at their store, located at 2434 S. Western Ave., where a recent theft of one of their restored bikes happened. On Saturday, July 26th, at approximately 12:38 pm, the alleged thief handed over an ID, then took one of the shop’s restored bikes for a test spin.

And never came back.

As it turns out, the ID he handed over was stolen.

Unfortunately for him, Working Bikes caught a photo of him on their camera.

Working Bikes wasn’t the only Chicago shop to have a bike stolen in this manner this weekend. Blue City Cycles and Rapid Transit Cycleshop both suffered the same scam.

On Saturday around 3 pm, a man walked into Blue City Cycles, located in the Bridgeport neighborhood, handed over his ID to test ride a bike, then stole it. On Monday, July 21st, a man walked into the Rapid Transit Cycleshop on Halsted and did the same exact thing.

According to Blue City Cycles co-owner Owen Lloyd, it is believed that the man who stole the bikes from Blue City Cycles and Rapid Transit Cycleshop is the same man. The alleged thief is also believed to have left his real ID at Rapid Transit Cycleshop.

Lloyd said that they do not believe this is the same man who stole a bike from Working Bikes.

Which leaves at least two thieves who have stolen bikes from bike shops with fake IDs within the last two weeks.

UPDATE 7/30/2014 11:39 pm: According to co-owner of Blue City Cycles Clare Knipper, 9th District police officers have recovered Blue City Cycle’s stolen bike. After the bike popped up on Craigslist, officers set up a sting, posing as potential buyers, and recovered the bike from the seller. The seller claims he bought it from Swap-O-Rama, a local flea market. No word on whether they’ve found the alleged thief, or if any charges have been made.

Mason Johnson is a Web Content Producer for CBS Chicago. You can find him on Twitter.

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