500 stolen donated bikes recovered by Concord police

Bay Area

NOVATO, Calif. (KRON) — Update: Mike’s Bikes CEO Ken Martin told KRON4 on Monday morning that the stolen container full of 500 donated bikes destined for Africa was found. Martin said the Concord Police Department now has the abandoned container, and says the semi-truck used to steal their container was also stolen.

Novato police were looking for the drivers of a semi truck who were caught on camera at Mike’s Bikes headquarters in Novato driving away with a shipping container full of 500 donated bicycles that were supposed to be shipped to Africa.

“We pieced together over a few days. My gosh, the entire container has been stolen. The container, all the bikes inside, all gone.”

Ken Martin, CEO of Mike’s Bikes, says the driver was caught on surveillance video at their headquarters in Novato, drove into their parking lot and left with a container full of 500 donated bicycles that were destined for Botswana, Africa. 

“It felt like a punch to the gut. completely devastating that all of the work we put in this container, all of our donors who have given their personal bikes to this foundation now everything was gone.”

Martin describes the contents of this container as life-changing for those who were supposed to receive it.

Through Mike’s Bikes foundation, Martin and his team collect donated bicycles from people all over Northern California and ship them off to entrepreneurs in Africa who run small bike shops. From there, the bikes are then repaired and sold at lower prices to help the entrepreneurs run their shops.

“The difference a bicycle can make in the life of someone who doesn’t have one or in the life of your everyday African who doesn’t have the things like freedom of movement and mobility that we just take for granted here.”

Over more than a decade, Martin says the non-profit has donated 37,000 bicycles in 74 different containers, all without incident, that was until this 75th container.

Martin says he didn’t realize what happened until just a few days ago when he discovered the damage left behind from the semi truck and its skid marks.

Novato police are aware of the license plate on the stolen trailer and have notified other agencies.

“It was not a crime of opportunity. Somebody knew they were coming there to get a container. they drove a semi-truck there with the intention of attaching a trailer and container to the semi-truck. They knew exactly what they were doing.”

Martin believes they were targeted here and say the thieves probably didn’t know the bikes were donated and not brand new. 

If you have any info or have seen the truck, contact Novato police.

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