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Bike thieves strike again Tuesday at Lincoln Park store

Mark Mattei, owner of Cycle Smithy in Lincoln Park, holds up the cable that thieves cut before making off with four high end road bikes worth $25,000 early Tuesday. / Mitch Dudek for the Sun-Times

It’s like the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds” — but this crew of thieves pulling off heists is stealing high-end bicycles instead of cars.

They’re prolific and brazen and bike shop owners in the Chicago area — mostly on the North Side — have never seen anything like it.

Chicago police aren’t yet willing to pin the crimes on one group, but there’s little doubt for bike shop owners that the same thieves are responsible.

More than a dozen similar burglaries in the last several weeks alone have netted a loss of well over $100,000, shop owners tell the Chicago Sun-Times.

Mark Mattei was the latest victim.

Four thieves arrived at the front door of his Lincoln Park shop, Cycle Smithy, Tuesday around 4:30 a.m. and cut through locks on the metal security gate Mattei had installed after his shop was burglarized three weeks ago.

After smashing in a front window of the shop — located in the 2400 block of North Clark Street — and cutting the cables and locks that held the bikes in place, they made off with four carbon fiber Cannondale road bikes worth a combined $25,000.

Losses from the robbery three weeks ago — when three bikes were stolen — totaled about $12,000, Mattei said.

Mattei suspects the thieves used bolt cutters and a grinder to cut through six locks to enter the store and free the bikes.

Mark Mattei walks past the boarded up window that thieves smashed early Tuesday to gain access to his Lincoln Park bicycle shop, Cycle Smithy. / Mitch Dudek for the Sun-Times
Mark Mattei walks past the boarded up window that thieves smashed early Tuesday to gain access to his Lincoln Park bicycle shop, Cycle Smithy. / Mitch Dudek for the Sun-Times

“I’ve never seen a serious crew hitting shops again and again like this. Usually it’s a single guy running off with a bicycle,” he said. “They’re pretty ballsy. They’ve found a groove and they’re rolling with it.”

Mattei slept in his shop a few nights after the robbery three weeks ago, but then decided against it.

“It struck me, ‘Jeez, if it’s 4:30 in the morning and there’s four guys breaking in, what am I going to do? Fit them for a bike? Assist with their saddle height?’ … I’ll probably just end up dead,” he said.

The crimes fit a pattern — thieves in masks arrive pre-dawn, cut locks, smash windows, grab high end bikes and get out.

In recent weeks thieves have struck twice at BFF Bikes in Bucktown and the Pony Shop in Evanston.

Thieves struck three times at Turin Bicycle, 4710 N. Damen — on Jan. 12. and Jan. 23 and again on Feb. 12.

“We changed locks and put up gates,” Turin service manager John Londres said. “It didn’t matter. They’re out in like 60 seconds and they know which bikes they want to grab. And they seem to be keeping a pretty regular schedule at this point.”

Chicago police spokesman Michael Carroll said that detectives are “working diligently” on the burglaries but could provide no additional details.