For the past six years, the Magic City Bicycle Collective has encouraged locals to ride their bikes by providing free tools for repairs and friendly volunteers to help get the job done. The group's tag line says it all: "We teach you how to fix your bike and how to keep it riding."
But this past Tuesday, when volunteers were preparing to open for their normal 6-to-9 p.m. shift, they discovered someone had been broken into the collective's modified shipping container. Thieves had hauled away three new bikes, expensive tools, and a generator the nonprofit group uses to keep the lights on. The total value was $4,000. It is the fourth time the bicycle collective has been targeted since it moved to Omni Park last February, according to Ruben van Hooidonk, the group's vice president.
"Each time that we seem to be getting on our feet and breaking even money-wise, we get broken into," he tells New Times. "This last time was pretty devastating."
Van Hooidonk says the collective had recently purchased three new bikes for about $400 each after talking with Airbnb about providing organized bike rides. Those bicycles, as well as the $500 generator and $2,000 worth of specialized tools, were stolen Monday, along with a number of smaller items, including at least 50 inner tubes. Because the organization has been repeatedly targeted, members believe it's the same person or group committing the crimes.
Each time a burglary occurs, the nonprofit has to shut its doors until it can raise enough funds to replace the equipment.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"Right now we won't be able to open up as normal until we have our stuff together again," van Hooidonk says. "We have no electricity, so we can't be open at night until we get a new generator, and we have no inner tubes until we can reorder them. That's all going to be money that comes out of my pocket or [those of] the other volunteers."
Although the group would like to remain in Omni Park at NW 12th Street and North Miami Avenue, van Hooidonk says the collective might decide to relocate.
"We're helping a lot of people, but it's coming to the point where we feel like we can't do that anymore," he says. "We put big steel plates on the windows, but now they're coming in through different ways. Next time they'll just use welding equipment to get into our stuff. We don't know where this will stop."
Those interested in helping the group can do so by clicking the "donate" button on the organization's Facebook page or by choosing the Magic City Bicycle Collective as the charity of choice on Amazon Smile.