Bicycle shops in Anchorage say they think bike thefts are on the rise, and the people stealing them are bolder than ever. Police say the season of bike thefts is just beginning, and hundreds more are likely to be reported before summer ends.

One man took off on a bike from The Bicycle Shop over the weekend in the middle of business hours, with surveillance cameras rolling. The shop posted photos of him on Facebook, offering up a $250 reward for information that leads to his arrest.

The suspect. Photo: The Bicycle Shop

The suspect. Photo: The Bicycle Shop

It’s the second time this year that someone has stolen a brand new bike from the Northern Lights Boulevard shop. Someone swiped a $2,500 fat-tire bike earlier in the year, and the bike stolen Saturday was worth $1,600.

“It makes you mad and you really wanna catch somebody and get some revenge,” said sales manager Rick Kelly.

He said customers come in almost daily with stories about how their bike was just stolen.

“The bikes become part of your life,” he said. “They’re part of your transportation, they’re part of your identity, if you will, so people get really upset when they find out that their own personal bikes have been lifted or just that bikes in general have been stolen for no other reason than that people are just being scumbags.”

He said to avoid thefts, they usually ask for a photo ID before letting someone ride a bike they’re interested in purchasing. But in Saturday’s case, the man gave them a credit card to hold on to, and they didn’t realize it belonged to a woman and was likely stolen until he was already long gone.

Christina Grande, the sales manager at Trek Bikes, confirmed she’s seen similar crimes. A customer’s bike was stolen out of the shop recently, and she’s heard the same stories from others.

“Most of the time, people come into a bike shop and they’re pretty stoked about getting a new bike, but you can tell when people are coming in and they’re like, ‘My bike was snatched,'” Grande said.

Anchorage police spokeswoman Renee Oistad reported seeing a slight increase in bike thefts this year since April, but said it’s about to get worse.

“Bike theft is a summertime crime,” she explained. “Now that school is out, we are going to start seeing a large uptick in these reports. Once school is back in session, and especially once we get our first snowfall, the bike theft reports vastly decrease.”

If data from the last four years is any indication, there will likely be another roughly 400 bikes stolen before Sept. 1.

APD Bike Theft data

That’s why Kelly recommends using a heavy duty lock for your bike, and keeping it indoors with you if at all possible.

“They can work through a cable lock, like one of these, in less than 30 seconds with a set of bolt cutters or a set of wire cutters,” he said.

KTVA 11's Daniella Rivera can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.