Friday, August 22, 2008

The Bicycle Thief

Not the Oscar nominated movie, the real deal:
TORONTO — What exactly was he planning to do with 2,865 bicycles?

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 [The Bicycle Clinic] here.

...."He's easily the most hated man in Toronto," said Alex Jansen, a filmmaker who has been working on a documentary about Kenk 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."

Kenk was something of an informal social worker, 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.

....On the afternoon of July 16, Kenk directed a companion, who has a history of mental illness, to cut the locks on two bicycles — not ones planted by the police — and they then rode off on them.

When the police subsequently raided the Bicycle Clinic, the Fire Department initially blocked them from entering because the building was so crammed with bicycles that a Fire Department rescue squad had to remove the upper-floor windows and lower the bicycles by rope.

An additional 200 bikes were seized in Kenk's home. Ten landlords around the city reported their garages had been rented by Kenk and were bulging with bicycles. As the police gathered the mounds of bikes, they also found cocaine, crack cocaine, about 15 pounds of marijuana and a stolen bronze sculpture of a centaur and a snake in battle.

In the past, Kenk has said he was accumulating bicycles in preparation for a severe oil shortage. But in a somewhat disjointed interview in July for a radio documentary...Kenk portrayed himself as a crusader against theft and a protector of castoff bicycles.

No comments: