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Los Angeles: Los Angeles police detectives arrested two men over the weekend, which broke up a downtown Los Angeles bicycle-theft ring and netted several stolen bicycles and parts, drug paraphernalia, and counterfeit money.
“This is a significant break for us,” said Lt. Paul Vernon, who heads up the Central Detective Division. “There were 123 bicycles stolen downtown in 2009. That’s 45 more than the year before, and we know there is more than one ring of thieves who are preying on bicyclists.”
Police point to the increasing popularity of bicycling for sport and transportation among downtown residents and have attributed the increase in thefts to the proliferation of bicycles, many costing in the thousands of dollars.
Friday, January 22, 2010, undercover detectives met a man in Santa Monica to buy a bicycle that he had posted on Craigslist. The bike’s real owner had reported the bike stolen on the same day, taken from the 500 block of Olympic Boulevard. Konstantin Rostovtsev, 51, listed the $600 Sirrus bicycle for $300, and included the after-market on-board computer in the asking price. After agreeing on the sale, detectives arrested the Ukranian native for receiving stolen property.
Detectives used information from Rostovtsev’s arrest to identify Edward Rene Arciga, 43, as another source of stolen bicycles. “We called Arciga and asked him if he had bikes for sale,” Vernon said. Saturday, undercover detectives met Arciga at the Olive Motel on Sunset Boulevard. Arciga pulled a bicycle out of his Mercedes Benz’s trunk and showed it to the detectives. When the detectives arrested Arciga, an accomplice opened the motel room’s door. “The detectives called the man out and could immediately see bolt cutters and more bikes,” Vernon added.
“This latter arrest was a gold mine,” said Lt. Vernon. “We found the two men were also bleaching money to counterfeit $100 bills.” Detectives found several counterfeit bills, a computer and a printer for making money, and evidence of heroin use. Secret Service agents seized a laptop computer, the counterfeit bills and manufacturing materials. Detectives booked Arciga for receiving stolen property, but he may face additional federal charges for counterfeiting.
“We think Arciga and Rostovtsev are just one of several rings working downtown,” Lt. Vernon warned. “All bicyclists need to protect themselves with good locks, record their bike’s serial number, and keep a receipt of the bike’s purchase price to prove its value; and remember, don’t leave a bike in a public place, even locked up, for longer than is necessary.”
For more information, or interviews about this case, please contact Lt. Paul Vernon, Central Area Detectives at 213-972-1203.
Tipsters can call Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may contact Crimestoppers by texting the number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.