Crime

Latest break-in last straw for downtown Fresno bicycle shop owner

Young thief at Fresno bicycle shop caught on camera

Security video at Fulton Cycle Works in downtown Fresno show a young person stealing a bicycle from the closed shop early Wednesday, May 10, 2016.
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Security video at Fulton Cycle Works in downtown Fresno show a young person stealing a bicycle from the closed shop early Wednesday, May 10, 2016.

The owner of a downtown Fresno bicycle shop said he is looking outside Fresno to restart his business after the latest burglary of his shop near Fulton Mall.

Darren Johnson of Fulton Cycle Works on Fulton Street near the Warnors Theatre said the Wednesday morning theft, in which a woman took two bicycles, was the last straw. Johnson, contacted by cellphone Thursday morning, said he was on the road, looking for new places for his business.

Wednesday’s break-in followed a trio of smash-and-grab burglaries earlier this year. A crook was captured on video on three separate occasions stealing bikes worth several hundred dollars and causing thousands of dollars in damage to doors and windows.

Plywood covered the windows of the shop after those crimes, and more was added to the shop Wednesday. In the latest break-in, the woman smashed windows to snatch a customer’s bicycle, only to toss it in a Dumpster when she discovered it did not have pedals. She returned and took another bike, which was later recovered in the nearby Lowell neighborhood.

After the February burglaries, Johnson considered moving elsewhere but decided to stay, saying, “Downtown is where we want to be, period.” He had planned to protect his business by turning old bicycle frames into security bars for the windows, but the thief struck before they could be installed.

13 percentrise in burglaries in the Fresno police southwest district (which includes downtown) this year over 2015

Aaron Blair, president and CEO of the Downtown Fresno Partnership, said the burglaries at Fulton Cycle Works are “a shame.”

“We hate to see anyone leave,” Blair said. “Obviously, he’s being targeted. I spoke with Darren yesterday morning and told him he needs to do what’s best for him.

“We’ll do whatever we can can to help him.”

Blair also mentioned helping raise money for a security gate for the shop.

While it is difficult to establish whether burglary is a greater problem in the downtown area than other parts of town, the most recent data from the Fresno Police Department indicates the crime is up in southwest Fresno, which includes downtown.

So far this year, burglaries are down by 31 percent in the northwest policing district, by 32 percent in the northeast district and by 14 percent in the southeast district, but up 13 percent in the southwest district.

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