City bike shop owners feel besieged; Box Dog vows to re-open tomorrow


Burglars cleaned out Box Dog Bikes overnight, making off with 21 bikes valued at around $60,000, according to the worker-owned store’s proprietors.  

Eric Lonowski, one of three co-owners of the bike shop at 14th and Guerrero, was informed by the police of the burglary early this morning. “My initial reaction was ‘God dammit, not again,” Lonowski said, referring to an incident this time last year, in which one bike was stolen from the shop.

Lonowski guessed that, between 2 a.m. (when Thieves Tavern bar closed next door) and 5:45 a.m. Thursday morning, burglars pried open the shop’s metal gate, broke the glass door, “weaseled” each bike out of the opening, and likely threw them in a van. “That’s the best I can surmise,” he said.

He has no video of the incident, he said, although police are in contact with neighbors about possible footage, he said.

The San Francisco Police Department did not immediately return messages.

All of the merchandise is insured, Lonowski said, but the real damage is not having inventory on the shelves. “Bike sales are going to take a big hit,” he said.

At the same time, he said, he and his co-owners are re-evaluating how to sell their bikes without running the risk of getting burglarized again — such as carrying fewer bikes in the store and doing more special orders.

The theft of retail bicycles, he said, is becoming a “bigger threat.”

City bike-shop owners keep in touch, and all are now on high alert. Big Swingin’ Cycles on Van Ness and Vallejo has experienced three attempted burglaries in the last week and half alone, said employee Charlie Ellis. He knew about what had happened at Box Dog. “Sounds like a similar thing,” he said.

Ellis said that since an initial attempted break-in on the Sunday before last, Big Swingin’ has had to reinforce the shop with more gates, bars, better locks, lighting, and cameras. He noted that, despite the extra protections, burglars still tried to get in.

Elevation Bike Co. on 32nd Ave. and Judah, meanwhile, experienced two attempted break-ins within a three-month period last year. Since then, owner Charlie Kocornik says he has taken extreme security measures, including installing a metal door in the back of shop, affixing scissor gates across the windows, and tying all of his bikes together at night.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “This is the stuff you have to do.”   

Box Dog will reopen tomorrow at 10 a.m.