One Outrageous Bike Thief

From The New York Times:

Published: August 21, 2008

TORONTO — What exactly was he planning to do with 2,865 bicycles?

Toronto Police, via National Post

The police are baffled by what Igor Kenk planned to do with such a surplus of bikes.

That is just one of many questions the police and others have been puzzling over since the arrest last month of Igor Kenk, the owner of a used-bike shop here.

Mr. Kenk’s legacy now fills a former police garage with a leaky roof. Organized by brand name and mostly resting on their handlebars, wheels pointed upward, are 2,396 of the bicycles that police say Mr. Kenk either stole or arranged to have stolen.

The jumbled collection of bicycles suggests that Mr. Kenk is the unofficial world champion of bicycle thieves. But as he awaits trial next month on 58 charges related to theft and drug possession, the biggest mysteries of all are Mr. Kenk’s motives and his ultimate plan for the armada of steel, rubber and aluminum he amassed.

“He’s easily the most hated man in Toronto,” said Alex Jansen, a filmmaker who has been working on a documentary about Mr. Kenk for more than a year as part of a study of his rundown neighborhood’s transition to hipsterdom. “But I just found that it’s not as black and white as I originally thought.”

Mr. Kenk was something of an informal social worker, Mr. Jansen explained, giving work to street people and outpatients from a nearby mental health institution. Of course, the police say some of that work involved stealing bicycles.

The arrest has provoked an outpouring of anger and publicity in a city renowned as one of the most bicycle-friendly places in the world. About 15,000 hopeful cyclists, some teary-eyed, have scoured the Kenk collection in search of their missing bicycles. But only 469 bicycles had been returned as of Thursday morning, when 17 more days of public viewings began.

Crazy.

Just to offer a little peice of mind, any used bike that is sold at a reputable bike shop here in the Twin Cities, including The Hub Bike Co-Op, has cleared a check with the local police authority. So if your bike is stolen, make certain to file a police report.

Of course, that won’t protect you from this kind of calculated theft.

Lock it up!

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