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Downtown L.A. Jewish-Owned Bike Store Looted

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June 1, 2020
Photos courtesy of Yehuda Masjedi

Yehuda Masjedi, who lives in Pico-Robertson, turned off his phone in the run-up to the Shavuot holiday on May 28. When Shabbat ended, he heard about the protests, riots and looting in downtown Los Angeles, and feared for the safety of his bike shop, DTLA Bikes.

Masjedi frantically phoned his employees, who said his store had been spared. However, at 5:29 a.m. May 31, Masjedi received a phone call.  “I knew exactly what was happening,” he told the Journal. “The alarm company told me the alarm had been set off. I jolted out of bed in my PJs, got into my car and drove straight to downtown. I felt like I needed to see my shop. This is my livelihood and my employees’ livelihood. I needed to make sure everything was OK.”

Upon arrival, he saw that his security gate was still down but it had been cut and there was broken glass on the ground. He called the police and waited for them in his car.

“The store next to me is an AT&T store and it was totally ransacked,” Masjedi recalled. “I’m seeing random individuals go in there and grab stuff and leave around 6 in the morning. I notice three people walking toward my shop. I usually can recognize bike thieves by the way they walk. When you’re in business 10 years, you know what people look like when they’re going to steal something.”

“Out of nowhere, I start yelling at these people, ‘What are you doing? This is my livelihood! You are the scum of the Earth. How dare you break into my business?’ I wasn’t thinking about anything, obviously. Luckily they bolted.”  — Yehuda Masjedi

Then, Masjedi said he saw bolt cutters in one of their backpacks. He watched them pull out the bolt cutters and get ready to cut the door. There were police on both corners of the street and the National Guard driving by but Masjedi said they were distracted.

Photos courtesy of Yehuda Masjedi

“Out of nowhere, I start yelling at these people, ‘What are you doing? This is my livelihood! You are the scum of the Earth. How dare you break into my business?’ I wasn’t thinking about anything, obviously. Luckily they bolted.”

When the police finally arrived, Masjedi went inside to assess the damage. All of the bikes were still there. “From the security footage I saw, they broke in, shattered the glass, noticed all my bikes were locked up, heard the alarm and bolted,” he said.

Masjedi spent May 31 cleaning up his store and serving customers. After receiving alerts from the city for a 6 p.m. curfew, he heard more protests and told customers to leave and come back the next day.

Photos courtesy of Yehuda Masjedi

Masjedi said his customers have been checking in on him and volunteers were helping to clean up the neighborhood. He said he was “totally one of the lucky ones. We were on the main looting street. That’s where all the big-box stores are. The majority of them were ransacked. I felt very lucky nothing was taken.”

The bike store was Masjedi’s dream. He left an unfulfilling job in real estate to open the store 10 years ago. He sells his own line of bikes with Jewish names like the DTLA Rambam Commuter, the DTLA Sephira 7 and the DTLA 1 Love 2020. He said that during the coronavirus pandemic, he’s been slammed with orders now that gyms are closed and parents want to get outside and ride with their kids. He said he has faith that everything will work out.

“I truly believe all this is coming from HaShem,” he said. “It’s more proof that humanity’s getting to a better place eventually. We just have to sort out who will do good and who won’t. We’re praying that overnight, nothing will happen to the shop.”

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