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25 bicycles stolen from police group

Saturday June 29, 2002

Program for underprivileged kids may now be in jeopardy 


By Matt Liebowitz 

Special to the Daily Planet 


The Berkeley Boosters Police Activity League is desperate after 25 of its bicycles were stolen Thursday from a storage space under the old Lee Frank Jewelers on Shattuck Avenue at Allston Street. 

“We’re really grasping at straws,” said David Manson, executive director of the boosters league. “I went there at 1 p.m., (Thursday) and they were all gone.”  

For 19 years the Boosters have collaborated with the Berkeley Police Department to provide outdoor-oriented programs for low-income, at-risk kids.  

This summer’s program, a 120-mile bike ride from Berkeley to Coloma, followed by camping and whitewater rafting, is scheduled July 8 to July 26, but Manson is now unsure of the program’s status. 

“There’s a slim hope that we’ll recover these bicycles at all, let alone by July 8,” Manson said. “This is a phenomenal loss.”  

August Chemotti of Mike’s Bicycle Center on University Avenue said bike theft is a big problem. 

“Bike theft around here is huge,” Chemotti said. In the repair room in the back of the shop, Chemotti pointed out a bike recently brought in without a steering column.  

“We get something like this every single day,” Chemotti said. He then took the seat and back wheel off, leaving the bike stripped and the frame on the ground. “We get them like this too.”  

Miriam Hunting, a co-worker of Chemotti’s said, “You’ve got to wonder where all the stolen wheels go.”  

A missing wheel could cost the owner $75 to more than $100 to replace, Hunting said. 

“Someone is earning a lot of money off these stolen wheels,” he said. 

The staff at Mike’s said they don’t loan bikes but would be willing to offer the Boosters a deal on bikes to keep their program on schedule. 

The Berkeley Police Department could not be reached for comment.