Friday, July 10, 2009
Police Get Break in Downtown Bike Thefts NR09329pvLos Angeles. Undercover officers arrested two 18-year-olds after they were caught walking an expensive bicycle down Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles. The arrests were possible thanks to the bike owner’s photograph and the bicycle’s distinct appearance.
“I was so surprised and pleased the officers found my bike,” said Bruce Bellamy, a 46-year-old, film-industry worker. “The bike is my primary mode of transportation.” Bellamy had ridden the bike to the gym inside the Citi National Bank building on June 30, around 5 PM. When he came out 90 minutes later, his lock was cut and the $1,400 competition racing cycle was gone.
“Mr. Bellamy had done everything correctly,” said Lt. Paul Vernon, head of detectives downtown. “He locked his bike with a quality lock and documented his ownership. What really helped us was his photograph and the fact this bike was unique.”
Police downtown have been battling a slew of bike thefts this year, 52 to date. One-third of the thefts have occurred between 5th and 7th Streets, and Figueroa to Hill Streets. “More and more residents and workers are riding bicycles as part of the downtown, urban experience, and this area represents popular shopping and business districts,” Vernon said.
On July 8, about a week after Bellamy’s bike was stolen, plain clothes officers spotted Abraham Ramos and his girlfriend, Alejandra Morales, walking a bike down Spring Street. The officers had the picture of Bellamy’s bike in hand and recognized it immediately.
“Turns out, Ramos and Morales re-stole the bike from the back of a tattoo shop on Broadway just a few minutes before the officers saw them,” Vernon said. The arresting officers were able to show that the couple conspired to steal the bike, then debated later whether to sell it or keep it. “Based on the investigation, we know this couple did not originally steal the bike from Bellamy, but they’re still responsible for stealing the bike, nonetheless.” Ramos and Morales were booked for Grand Theft and their bails were set at $20,000.
According to statistics for this year, nearly 80% of the downtown stolen bicycles have been taken between noon and midnight; the top days to have a bike stolen are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Ten of the 52 stolen bikes were taken from one of two libraries downtown, the Central branch on 5th Street, and the Little Tokyo Branch on 2nd Street.
“We’re looking for any information to help identify the bike thieves downtown,” Vernon said. “In the mean time, riders should continue to lock their bikes and avoid leaving bikes unattended for long periods.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the 24-hour Information Desk at 1-877-ASK-LAPD (529-3855). Persons can also send anonymous tips by texting CRIMES (274637) and typing LAPD to start the message. A photograph of Bellamy’s bicycle is available from Media Relations Section.