Repeated Break-Ins as Just Ride Recovers from 2022 Floods

Lismore, NSW

A Lismore bike store hit by the devastating NSW floods in February 2022 has now been targeted by a series of break-ins.

Just Ride Cycles, in the NSW Northern Rivers region, has been robbed four times in the 11 months since owners Jason and Rachel Sipple relocated and finished fitting out their new premises in the wake of the floods.

That includes break-ins on two consecutive nights last week, as thieves smashed their way in through the front of the store.

“The break-ins have certainly dampened the experience of being small business owners but we still love working in the bike industry,” Jason said.

While insurance will ensure the couple recovers most of the costs, it’s another setback while trying to run a business in a town still severely impacted by the impact of floods in both February and March last year.

While the March flood didn’t reach the store’s somewhat elevated location in East Lismore, many homes and businesses in the district – including Lismore’s other bike store, Harris Cycling Co. – were inundated twice.

“There’s still a very sombre feeling. People are really down in the dumps and some aren’t spending like they used to,” Jason said.

“People are broke and kids are bored.

“I don’t’ think the town will ever recover to where it was because some businesses won’t reopen. One in two stores still haven’t opened, particularly downtown.
“Some premises haven’t been touched since the flood.”

The Sipples entered the bike industry in 2007 when they bought Jack Ransom Cycles in nearby Ballina.

They closed that store when they opened Just Ride Cycles in 2012, in the same shopping complex they currently occupy. The businesses shifted just a short distance, to a slightly larger premises, during the three-month process of rebuilding after last year’s floods.

Jason said in the 10 years prior to the floods, the business has been broken into twice but hasn’t experienced anything like the current spate of thefts.

In the past week, they have taken available steps to make the building more secure and have reduced stock on the floor, putting some of it in storage, as police continue investigations into the crimes.

Jason said the small business, which he staffs alone, has enjoyed a boost in sales through the opening of the first stage of the Northern River Rail Trail last month.

“The Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek section is about 60km from their store but has certainly brought added business,” he said.

“It’s got more people riding bikes, including getting mums and dads on bikes. We’re getting more old bikes dragged out of the shed and brought in here, so families can ride on the trail.”

The owner of Harris Cycle Co., Darryl Harris, said his business hadn’t experienced any recent break-ins but was certainly worried about the incidents at Just Ride.

He was also surprised by the amount of extra business they were enjoying as a result of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail.

“I always thought it had huge potential to get people up there but I’m genuinely shocked by how many people from here are going up there to ride it – and ride it multiple times,” he added.

“It’s brought a good boost in services and repairs, as well as sales in new bikes and accessories over the past month.

“We should get an even bigger kickback when closer sections of the trail are up and running.”

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