New Haven Police Officer Rich Burgos anticipated trouble as he patrolled Wooster Square last Tuesday night. He knew Wednesday, Veterans Day, was a day off at New Haven Public Schools, and he was afraid teen night at the nearby R Bar on East Street might grow out of control.
As Burgos passed Devil’s Gear Bike Shop on Chapel Street, where many Yale and Elm City bike riders purchase their equipment, he saw a crowd of teens fleeing. They had raided the store, and Burgos called for backup.
A police report and interviews with Devil’s Gear workers Monday revealed details of the crime at the neighborhood store on 433 Chapel St., where teenage burglars stole 24 bikes and shattered the front door of the store. The owner, Matt Feiner, said seven bikes have been recovered but that the remaining missing bikes and repairs to the door resulted in a loss of about $9,000.
As hundreds of teenagers exited R Bar Tuesday night, the group of robbers kicked down the door to the basement storage area and looted as much as they could, according to the police report for the robbery. As they left, Burgos called in six squad cars, none of which were more than few blocks away. Meanwhile, Feiner said he woke up to a phone call from his alarm company.
Once the police arrived, the burglars scattered. Soon after, Mitch Dubey, an employee at Devil’s Gear, arrived on the scene. Dubey said he was at a friend’s house and had to sprint all the way from East Rock.
“I was so shocked at what happened that I made it there in eight minutes,” Dubey said.
By the end of the night, police arrested only six of the teenagers, according to the police report, and Feiner said they will be charged with breaking and entering.
The crime was the second at Devil’s Gear in two years, the last one occurring a year ago, Feiner said.
Last November, a middle-aged man stole a bike on display outside of the store. When Feiner realized what happened, he said, he dashed out of the store and chased the man down the street in the hopes of catching up with him. But the man had already fled on the bike.
But even with the two burglaries, Feiner said he does not have many intentions to amp up security. Though he added a metal grate to the door that the teenagers ruined, Feiner said he will continue to rely on his alarm system.
“I don’t think we’re being specifically targeted,” Feiner said. “It’s just a couple of kids doing stupid things at night.”
He added: “We really got lucky that the police were so close by. Had it not been for them, I could have lost everything in the store.”