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“I knew immediately when he turned that corner, at that speed and in the direction he did, that he was not coming back”

A family-owned bike shop in Costa Mesa, California, is offering a $1,000 reward for the safe return of a $5,000 BH Ultralight EVO Disc after a man posing as a customer took it on a test ride and never came back.

Bicycling.com reports that the thief browsed for about five minutes, then asked employees at The Cyclist about the shop’s most expensive bike.

“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,” said store manager, Anthony Karambellas. “I chatted with him about the bike fitting process, and we talked a little about racing. He definitely knew what he was talking about.”

The man is said to have asked knowledgeable questions, inquiring about components and sizes. He then asked to take the display model for a test ride.

Karambellas agreed and asked for some form of identification. The man handed over a driver’s licence.

“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,” said Karambellas.

Karambellas put some flat pedals on the bike and the man rode a few laps round the car park. After speaking to Karambellas about bike fitting options, he set off riding again, but this time left the car park, sprinted up the shoulder of a nearby road towards oncoming traffic and then went 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,” said Karambellas. “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.”

The Costa Mesa Police Department arrived within 10 minutes. They said the ID was real, but they didn’t believe it belonged to the thief.

“We all just sat there in shock,” said Karambellas. “This guy looked, rode, and acted like anyone else who would come in looking for a high-end bike. This was very calculated.”

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