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Mobile service van stolen in San Francisco

Published December 5, 2017
The Civic Cyclery van at an event this year.

SAN FRANCISCO (BRAIN) — Civic Cyclery, a brand-new retailer here, had its mobile service van stolen last weekend from outside the storeowner's home.

The modified 2009 Mercedes Sprinter van was loaded with tools, supplies, some inventory and the owner's personal ski and bike equipment. It did not have any bikes inside and was not branded with store logos.

The theft is a major loss for store owner Ben Brydon, who began prepping his business about a year ago and estimated he put 200 to 300 hours of his own time into modifying the van.

"It's kind of killing me right now," he told BRAIN on Tuesday.

Brydon, who worked for Velofix and other retailers before launching his own business, had planned to focus his new business on mobile service, including contract jobs. But he soon realized the business needed a brick-and-mortar home base, in part so he could secure accounts with wholesalers. So in August he opened a store near the intersection of Market and Taylor Streets in San Francisco.

The store is centrally located, so it serves as a perfect base for mobile service. "I can get anywhere in the city in 10 minutes," Brydon said. The location also might see a boost when a protected bikeway — planned to pass directly in front of the shop on Taylor Street — is completed.

Before the theft, Brydon kept the van parked near the store most days and had been going out on service appointments and pickups and deliveries every day. He had planned to start marketing the mobile service this month and was going to have the van custom branded; he's now thankful he didn't spend money on that job before the theft.

The short-wheelbase van is gray with dual rear wheels and sliding doors on each side, an unusual configuration. Brydon had modified it with storage shelves, solar panels and batteries, and other features. The contents included a complete bike toolset with everything from frame facing tools to hand tools from Park, Pedro's and Abbey Bike Tools. It had an adjustable Efficient Velo Tools wall-mount workstand.

The inventory included new shoes in boxes from Five Ten and other brands and some wheels. Brydon's personal equipment included some Lib Tech skis, Nordica boots and bike helmets.

The van was stolen from outside his home in the city on Sunday, Nov. 26. Brydon said security camera footage shows it was taken at 2:45 a.m., but the footage does not give enough detail to identify the thief.

Brydon said he and police suspect the van was stolen to be parted out. Because it wasn't branded with store logos, he guesses the thieves weren't expecting to find the bike gear inside and none of it has turned up.

Brydon said he has personal insurance on the van and business insurance on the inventory and tools, but it's not clear yet whether insurance will reimburse him for his own labor he invested in modifying the van. It's also not clear he'll get reimbursed for the loss of his personal gear.

Including the cost of the van, the modifications, tools and inventory, he estimated the loss totaled at least $60,000. He said that even if he gets the full reimbursement for the value of the van and gear, he doesn't have the time available now to do all the modifications himself.

Brydon is asking that anyone who sees the van or any of the tools or inventory to contact police by calling 911, or call San Francisco police at 415-558-5400 and reference case 170-959-620.

The store's website is ridecivic.bike.

 

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