At least five valuable mountain bikes have been stolen in the city during the last week, often from cars parked at retail locations after the cable locks securing those bikes were chopped in broad daylight, says the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society. And two were taken from inside a locked home in the middle of the afternoon.
The group has asked a Santa Fe police officer to attend its next meeting, but the department didn't respond to an inquiry from SFR about the apparent uptick of bicycle theft.
"It seems like a lot of people are coming from trailheads and I believe somebody is watching people leaving from trailheads and it also looks like they're targeting specific kinds of bikes, high-end specific kinds of bikes," Pat Brown, president of the Fat Tire Society, tells SFR five minutes after another report of a bike theft, this one from the hospital parking lot Thursday afternoon. "In at least two incidences, it was people coming off the trailhead, going to a retail center or a retail shop and stopping to buy something and coming back out and their bikes are gone."
If that weren't disconcerting enough, someone broke into a Santa Fe home and stole two bikes this week. Mat Long, who cites 30 years of working in the biking industry (though he has since moved on to making furniture), came home Wednesday afternoon to find two Santa Cruz mountain bikes, their total value at $14,000, missing from inside his locked house. Marks on the door showed where the lock had been shimmied on a back room used to store the bicycles.
Long had returned home twice in the last seven days to find locks and doors in his house tampered with. The first time, the lock on the French doors to the bike room, which is blocked from view from the street by an 8-10 foot coyote fence and windows covered with shades, had been removed from the latch, and the second, the front door was left hanging open. This, despite ADT Security Systems stickers on the windows.
He'd been gone the afternoon the bikes were stolen from 2:30pm and 5pm. Though he had ridden that morning from the ski area to his house in Casa Solana, that was his first in a while, he says, so he doesn't think being tracked from a trailhead was how the thieves knew to target his home. Rather, he suspects the bike rack sporting a Santa Cruz sticker on his vehicle parked outside.
"They're looking for specific things, because I had another bike in there that is very expensive, but it's not a very common name, you would only really know about it if you were really into bikes, and they left that there…[and] that's a $6,000 bike," he says. "So I think it's the brand. They're looking for brands, and they're looking for full suspensions. And these bikes were both carbon fiber."
The brands targeted appear to be Yeti and Santa Cruz, both expensive, highly coveted boutique-type mountain bike brands. Santa Cruz bicycles can retail for up to $8,200, and Yetis as high as about $12,000.
"They're easy to sell, they're easy to get rid of, and everybody always wants them," Long says.
At Mellow Velo, bike owners have reported two stolen Yetis and a Santa Cruz to keep an eye out for. One was reported stolen from the Trader Joe's parking lot and one from Susan's Fine Wine and Spirits.
SFR asked the police department for additional information on bike crimes in the area, but a spokeswoman did not immediately reply.
Long suspects his bikes are already in another state, or in a warehouse being stripped to the frame.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's gone," he says. "We have insurance that's going to cover it, but for me, it's just the fact that they broke into the house. That just seems crazy."
The Fat Tire Society has asked for a police officer to attend their meeting 6pm Monday, Oct. 12, at REI, and perhaps a police presence at trailheads.
"When people are following you home, there's not much you can do, and you don't even know they're following you—who's looking in the rearview mirror?" says Brown. He advises being aware of your surroundings and who might be leaving at the same time as you from a trailhead, and, of course, cable locks are what's getting chopped, not U-locks.
"I can tell you it's on the radar now," Long said. "People are freaked out."