WEST ROGERS PARK — The bizarre theft caught on surveillance footage showing a man trying to bike off with $600 of raw, marinated halal meat from a West Rogers Park restaurant just got a little stranger.
Tim Parsons believes the odd-looking bicycle seen in the video is a so-called Donky Bike and was stolen from his home's backyard in West Town in August, he said.
How does he know it was his bike? The Donky Bike is made in the United Kingdom — and he has the only one in Chicago. In fact, only three of the bikes are in the United States, according to its manufacturer.
"If they find the meat thief, they'll find my bike," said Parsons, who teaches design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
On Aug. 31, Parsons reported the bike stolen on the Chicago Stolen Bike Registry. More than a month later, Parsons read DNAinfo Chicago's report about the burglary of JK Kabab House, a restaurant near Devon Avenue in the 6400 block of North Rockwell Street.
Sure enough, his "rare" and short black bike, with metal bars affixed to its frame to form a platform below the handle bars, looked just like the one caught on camera.
Donky Bikes sell for about $800 on the company's website. Parsons, a U.K. native, said the bike was designed by his friend Ben Wilson, who gave him a free bike six months ago to show off around Chicago.
Wilson, when reached by email Wednesday, confirmed Tim was one of three "Donky USA ambassadors."
The other bikes are in New York and Berkeley, Calif.
Parsons said he used his bike, which is designed to carry up to 175 pounds, to transport boxes, groceries and tools.
In August, he said he left the bike behind a stairwell in his back yard, which is surrounded by a locked gate. But the next day, the bike was gone.
"[It's] such a shame Tim was a victim of the ... theft, and then the bike is used as the 'getaway vehicle'," said Dawn Pooley, a spokeswoman for Donky Bike, in an email.
Rogers Park Police District Cmdr. Thomas Waldera asked Devon Avenue business owners last week to keep an eye out for the strange bicycle.
"We've been looking for that bicycle for a long time," he said.
Waldera said the thief might have hit a few other businesses in the area, but none since the meat theft.
"It is a very distinct-looking bike, and it looks substantial," said Waldera. "It does look like it was manufactured that way."
"Now the meat thief has it," joked Waldera, who was unable to confirm the bike used in the theft was indeed the stolen Donkey Bike. Parsons has not been questioned by police in connection with either the bike or meat thefts.
Surveillance footage obtained by DNAinfo Chicago showed the thief — dressed in a black jumpsuit and Nike gym shoes — drag a container, draped in a red decorative tapestry, into the alley behind the restaurant.
He then walks off camera into an adjacent alley to retrieve the bicycle. He hoists the container of meat onto the front platform. But as he tries to ride away, the container tips over, spilling smaller containers of marinated meat onto the pavement.
Parsons said that the bike also came outfitted with a rear platform, but he had removed it before his bike was stolen.
Then the thief goes back into a gangway, where he's shown on another camera retrieving a shopping cart.
He then rides the bicycle out of frame and returns on foot seconds later.
The thief transfers the goods from the container to the shopping cart and then pushes the cart down the adjacent alley and out of view.
Parsons said he hoped the footage would help spread the word for people to keep an eye out for his bike.
Wilson, his designer friend, agreed:
"Let's try and get it back!"