East Village Bike Shop Manager Speaks on NYPD Bust

Yesterday we reported that police have shut down the Busy Bee bike shop in the East Village for criminal possession of stolen property. In a phone call with Streetsblog last night, store manager Joe Malewich said he’s not sure what his staff could have done to prevent the three arrests which resulted in the store’s closure.

Officers from the Ninth Precinct first came to Busy Bee in June of 2008 to buy bikes which they said would be used in special operations targeting bike theft, Malewich told Streetsblog. "They bought two bikes for $350, and we donated two bikes, so they got four bikes for $350, and they wrote us a check," he explained. "Then strange things started happening quite a while later."

Undercover officers started dropping by the store in October 2009, attempting to sell back the same bikes the precinct purchased. Store workers bought back the bikes, Malewich said, unaware of what had happened fourteen months prior.

According to Malewich, the NYPD affidavit states that undercover
officers made it clear to Busy Bee employees that they were trying to unload stolen bikes, an assertion that he
disputes. "What bike shop employee would say, ‘Oh, okay, I’ll buy the
bike you just clearly described to me as stolen’?" he asked.

Since October 2009, three of Malewich’s employees have been arrested
for buying bikes from undercover officers. Two have
since been cleared in court, Malewich said, but a third,
arrested last Friday, still has a court date coming up.

Malewich contested the NYPD’s grounds for arrest. "In
one instance, the undercover officers claimed they described the bike
they were selling as a ‘hot bike,’" he said. "What bike lover
hasn’t used the term ‘hot bike’ to describe a bike that catches their
eye, or that they’re trying to sell?"

When officers from the Ninth Precinct came in to the Busy Bee with a
search warrant on October 29, Malewich said they failed to turn up a single bike listed as stolen.

Streetsblog has a request in with NYPD to speak to Allison Arenson, the department’s attorney handling the case.

Malewich added that after bikes are purchased, the store’s policy is to put them in the front window, or on the sidewalk, so that if somebody has lost their bike, they’ll see it and be able to get information about how the store acquired the bike. "We were being as careful as we could," he said.

  • Mr. Malewich, don’t let your employees buy bicycles (or anything else) for cash. Aside from the receiving-stolen-property question, you’re basically giving them the opportunity to take money out of the till.

  • “Undercover officers started dropping by the store in October 2009, attempting to sell back the same bikes the precinct purchased. Store workers bought back the bikes, Malewich said, unaware of what had happened fourteen months prior.”

    STUPID. Don’t buy bikes for cash. Don’t buy bikes from people who come in off the street.

    Even RAB only takes donations with tax information so they can confirm the identity of those donating bikes.

    Even if there wasn’t malice here, there was enough stupidity to support more than a few bike thieves.

  • Josh

    I certainly hope that this pro-bike blog is not supporting a buisness which is providing a massive disincentive to bike in the city. What service do they provide that a reputable bike store, which basically only buys “used” bikes from people who are buying new bikes would otherwise provide?

    Wait, are people shocked, shocked that a used bike only store had stolen bikes?

  • I’m just shocked the police department charged them for it.

  • David Rucker

    This sounds like a classic frame job by the NYPD. Apparently they had a very low bar set for the definition of “stolen”….

  • Tubulus

    Check out the yelp reviews of this store.
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/busy-bee-bike-new-york
    While the owner makes it sound like a frame-up (zing!), it doesn’t sound like the nyc bike community is going to miss this place.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Well, everybody gets due process but for the readers of this blog its just another clear example of how the TWU has fucked up transportation labor in NYC.

  • will

    niccolo – what are you talking about? how does TWU have anything to do with bike theft prosecution?

  • This is ridiculous. You shouldn’t arrest and charge someone because their store’s policies are sloppy enough that they could hypothetically be exploited by thieves. Bad bike store or not, that is a mockery of due process.

    If they had found stolen bikes in the shop, absolutely — make the arrest. But that would require the NYPD to actually investigate a bike theft. Unlikely.

    This just sounds like they had already decided to get the store. Maybe the clerk was insufficiently deferential to New York’s Finest, or maybe they just wanted to metaphorically punch the bike-riding hippies.

  • lee light

    You know, Jonathan, your comment smacks of so many ugly, classist, neo-con, snobbish, reactionary, did I say ugly? things I don’t know where to begin. As folks like you are typically so hidebound and closed down to your own faulty worldview, I therefore opt not to begin–why waste time; thoughtful readers have already gotten it. You never shall.

  • Lee, So sorry! I’d forgotten: property is theft!

  • Nick

    I just bought an awesome used bike from them! I don’t want a stolen bike. I want my $400 back! Sad to see them go though. Liked the place :-/

  • bigmoneymotive

    What would motivate the police force, as an institution, to commit time and resources to this “sting?” Keep in mind, this is the same police force that has an ongoing commitment to attack Critical Mass riders, ticket-harass pedicab drivers, and sweep under the rug any incident where a vehicle kills a pedestrian. It is not a concern for the cycling public, that is for sure. My guess is that the Busy Bee is at the least an eyesore in an “up and coming” neighborhood, or perhaps, a valuable piece of real estate that some fishbowl-office’d bandit has decided he wants to lay claim to. I love how they donated two of the bicycles to the cops — this is how those thugs repay such cooperation. These wonderfully crusty punks should start to dot their ‘i’s and cross their ‘t’s, they are now clearly a marked target.

  • joe adano

    CLASSIC N.Y.P.D. ROOKIES GRASPING AT STRAWS. QUICK PROMOTIONS???????????

  • joe adano

    What about all those rapists and murderers,a waste of resources here.

  • CORRUPT NYPD/GOVERNMENT BULLSH#T. THIS IS GENTRIFICATION. THIS IS INSECURITY. THIS IS HATRED. THIS IS THE NEW UNITED STATES. WAKE THE FU#K UP, PEOPLE. 

  • ………..AND, for the record, I’m not standing behind this business…..just wait and see what kind of yuppie boutique hellhole takes its place.

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