The staff at in Fairfax helped local police nab a suspected bicycle thief that has allegedly hit bike shops statewide and has been dubbed, the California Bike Bandit in a crime bulletin distributed by the San Francisco Police Department.
Jason Kurt Fashimpaur, a 41-year-old resident of Sausalito, was arrested on suspicion of burglary and using a forged ID by Twin Cities police and was being held on $15,000 bail at the Marin County Jail for a theft at City Cycle in Corte Madera.
He does not match the description of a earlier this month. That thief jumped off the bike and ran away when a loyal customer of the shop, Jim Brenehey, used his motor scooter to block the rider's path as Classcycle shop co-owner Curt Ross gained on the pair while pedaling a "chase bike" from the shop.
Sunshine Bicycle manager Tony Merz said a man came the shop on Tuesday afternoon to test-drive a $2,800 bicycle. Merz said that his identification was a temporary driver’s license without any photo ID attached.
“We take a photo ID and a credit card to hold, so one of our employees went out on the test drive with him,” said Merz.
The man left and came back later to try the bike a second time and was again allowed to test drive with an employee. “He brought the bike back because it was making a clicking noise and that was when one of employees recognized him from the flier,” Merz said.
While the man was waiting for the shop manager to work on the bike, Merz made a quick call to another bike shop in Berkeley, the Missing Link, and confirmed that the alias, "Cerri Kurtis," used on the identification was the same as the one used at that store in a bike theft.
Chief Chris Morin said they were notified and detained the suspect at Sunshine Bicycle while an employee of City Cycle in Corte Madera, another shop hit, made a positive identification.
Merz credits employee Emile Mulholland for making the connection to the crime bulletin photo and said it was a pretty exciting two hours in the shop. “We liked to think we helped out.”
He added that there have been a rash of bike thefts statewide and bike shops have been using email and Facebook to keep informed.
According to Merz, there have been other bike shops in Marin that have been hit by thefts, including Village Peddler in Corte Madera, California Bike-N-Bean in San Rafael and Classcycle in Novato. (Happy ending in the Classcycle incident: Shop owners Curt and Lorrie Ross plan to take the scooter rider out for dinner to show their appreciation).
The alleged Classcycle thief was described as Hispanic, in his mid-20s, about 5-foot-9 with a slight build, with a black baseball cap covering his bald head. Lorrie Ross of Classcycle said other shop owners in Marin have said that description matches that of their suspects.
“In the last few years, we’ve heard of a lot of bikes being stolen," Merz said. "Thieves take them out of the county and sell them elsewhere or they strip them and sell them for parts."
Merz attributes the uptick in thefts to the slow economy and, while he doesn't like to admit it, he said bikes are easy to steal and sell. He said bike shops are not the only targets — there have been increased residential thefts of bikes, as well.
He added that one customer said a bike was taken from his garage in broad daylight while his family was at home. “It’s a violation and it’s getting pretty scary.”