Hundreds of donated bikes recovered after thieves drove off with container


NOVATO, Calif. (KRON) — Police recovered hundreds of bikes stolen from a Bay Area donation drive Monday, as the organizer says he thinks the thieves came prepared to drive off with a container of goods.

Mike’s Bikes CEO Ken Martin says surveillance video from their headquarters in Novato, CA captured footage of thieves driving a semi truck into their parking lot last Sunday and leaving with a container full of 500 donated bicycles which were destined for Botswana, Africa. 

“We pieced together over a few days. My gosh, the entire container has been stolen. The container, all the bikes inside, all gone,” Martin said.

Through the Mike’s Bikes foundation, Martin and his team collect bicycles from people all over northern California and ship them off to entrepreneurs in Africa who run small bike shops. From there, the bikes are repaired and sold at lower prices to help the entrepreneurs make a living.

“It felt like a punch to the gut, completely devastating that all of the work we put in this container, all of our donors who have given their personal bikes to this foundation now everything was gone,” Martin said

Martin describes the contents of this container as life-changing for those who were supposed to receive it.

“The difference a bicycle can make in the life of someone who doesn’t have one or in the life of your everyday African who doesn’t have the things like freedom of movement and mobility that we just take for granted here,” Martin said.

Over more than a decade, Martin says the non-profit has donated 37,000 bicycles in 74 different containers, all without incident. Until this 75th container.

Martin says he didn’t realize what happened until a few days ago, when he discovered the damage left behind from the semi truck and its skid marks.

The Concord Police Department also reported that the semi-truck used to steal the container filled with bikes was also stolen.

“It was not a crime of opportunity. Somebody knew they were coming there to get a container, they drove a semi-truck there with the intention of attaching a trailer and container to the semi-truck,” Martin said. “They knew exactly what they were doing.”

Martin believes they were targeted here and say the thieves probably didn’t know the bikes were donated and not brand new. 

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