KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Ryan Barber said Monday was a busy day at KZoo Swift. Customers were walking in and out of their small shop on Westnedge Avenue, where they rebuild and sell vintage and news bikes. However he remembers exactly when their black Del Rey bike was stolen.
“We had a couple of gentlemen stop by the shop,” said Barber who owns and operates the business. “One came in to distract us.”
It was around 3:15 p.m. when they arrived, Barber said. The man was looking for a special bike and wanted them both to go out back. Barber was busy and told him they didn’t have what he was looking for.
“He ended up going outside and telling his partner that the coast was clear,” said Barber. “At that point the partner came and looked inside for himself, noticed that we were still busy and went around the corner to where we have a few bikes and took one off the lot.”
At 3:23 p.m., Barber said they took a bike on their front sidewalk. It was one of their best ones too, worth $459. Immediately they checked the surveillance cameras and handed it over to police.
“We ended up looking around the neighborhood ourselves,” said Barber. “They ended up alluding police for a little bit.”
Barber said the next day Kalamazoo Public Safety Officer Keith Nielsen was out on his bike when he saw someone riding around on the Del Rey. According to Barber, the officer asked the man who it belonged to and he told him that he bought it from someone and was innocent of any theft.
“Running a bike shop isn’t easy,” said Barber about his shop where they sell top-notch brands like Fuji, SE and Breezer. “There’s a lot that goes into it that a lot of people don’t see. So to blatantly take something that I spent my money on personally, it’s disheartening.”
Police quickly arrested the man on charges of possession of stolen property, among a few others. He was taken into custody and Barber’s bike was returned to him. The 30-year-old was so grateful to get it back, he said, that he posted it on FaceBook thanking KDPS publicly.
“We’re an organic small business that really tries to come in everyday to help the community,” said Barber. “For us to work everyday so hard on all these bikes to get them on the road and get the community riding, to have one taken, you take it personally. You really do.”