(Photo courtesy Audrey Burkhardt)
Late Tuesday night someone broke into Audrey and Neil Burkhardt’s garage and stole three of their bikes. Less than 24 hours later, thanks to the bravery and quick thinking of two bike shop employees, they got two of them back.
Audrey shared with us that the thieves smashed through a padlocked door just six feet from where she was sleeping in their home in the Piedmont neighborhood (near Lombard and Vancouver). “The emotional turmoil and the loss of my transportation, stress relief, exercise, etc., was hard,” she shared.
Audrey acted fast. She filed a police report and listed all three bikes on our Stolen Bike Listings. She spent the day dealing with the theft, then later that evening she got an email from Eric Swain, an employee at Revolver Bikes on N Interstate and Rosa Parks Way. They had recovered two of the three bikes.
“I was like, ‘You’re not getting out of here. This isn’t your bike’.”
— Ethan Furniss, Revolver Bikes
According to Ethan Furniss, another Revolver employee who helped get the bikes back, two “shady looking” guys strolled into the shop just before closing on Tuesday night and he immediately suspected the bikes were stolen. The bikes were sleek and new models from Fuji and Trek and Ethan said, “The dudes did not look like the type that would ride bikes made for hill climbing.” Both bikes also had clipless pedals (they wore tennis shoes) and the seats were way out of adjustment. So, even though the shop was full of other customers, he turned all his attention to the thieves. “I just chatted them up. I was kind of grilling them about the bikes, pretending there was nothing wrong.” Meanwhile, Eric jumped onto BikePortland to see if the bikes were indeed stolen.
Hoping to pull the bike closer to himself, Ethan convinced one of the thieves that his seatpost needed adjustment. “Let me help you with that,” he said with a smile, as he pulled toward his body. Just as Ethan made that move, Eric walked up and announced, “Those bikes are on BikePortland!” Ethan then shoved the bike he already had in his hands further toward the back of the store. Ethan says the other thief exclaimed, “No way! These aren’t stolen! I’m out of here!” and grabbed his backpack and the bike and made a run for the door.
“It turned from inquisition to confrontation at that point,” recalled Ethan. They met at the shop’s front door. “I was like, ‘You’re not getting out of here. This isn’t your bike’.” As the two men struggled near the doorway, Ethan recounted his internal debate: “Do I continue with this confrontation, or do I let this guy go? My fist going toward someone’s face isn’t a natural impulse.”
Then Eric joined the confrontation, asking the thief why he was trying get away if the bike wasn’t stolen. Eric then grabbed bike, as did a third employee. “I kept saying, ‘You’re outnumbered!'” recalled Ethan, “I was just trying to persuade him to let us have the bike.” A customer who was in the shop also got involved by proclaiming loudly, “I’m calling the cops right now!”
At this point, the first thief had already left the shop, and ultimately, the one involved in the confrontation let go of the bike and ran outside. Ethan and Eric slammed the door behind him and locked it (they didn’t want the thief to damage the store and they wanted to keep the other customers safe). The thieves ran and headed east on Rosa Parks Way. Ethan gave chase but they were out of sight. Unfortunately, they got away.
Ethan is especially sensitive about bike theft these days. Revolver owner Mark Pickett got his bike stolen last week, and a customer had a bike stolen from a roof rack at New Seasons (across the street) a few days ago. “Bike theft is pretty rampant in north Portland right now. I want bike thieves to go to jail,” he said, “I want more consequences.”
For Audrey, she’s happy to have her bikes back safe and sound. “The guys at Revolver are badasses for recognizing a shady situation and thinking so quickly on their feet, and they’ll be getting my business from now on, and as many of my friends I can steer to them.”
She’s sad that her fully decked-out Marin commuter (which she named “Tank”) is still missing, but, she says, “Knowing now how dumb these criminals are, my spirit is buoyed that I’ll be reunited soon.”