Los Angeles: Two nights ago, April 14, 2010, Los Angeles police officers arrested two men and one juvenile male in two separate, unrelated bicycle thefts downtown. A fourth adult suspect remains at large and unidentified.
“With bike theft going up last year, we’ve really made bike theft a focus this year, and it’s paying off with arrests,” said Lt. Paul Vernon, who heads up investigation for the Central Area. “There appears to be no shortage of thieves willing to walk away with someone’s bike.”
Undercover detectives set up a sting in front of the CVS pharmacy, near Sunset Boulevard and Beaudry Street on Wednesday, around 8 p.m. “We placed a bike against at water vending machine,” Lt. Vernon explained. “It took only a couple minutes for the first man to walk up and take the bait.”
Detectives arrested Marcelo Ruvalcaba, 36, when he rode off on the bicycle, after first filling a bottle at the vending machine. “It must have been a pretty impulsive act because he had the water bottle in a book bag, and he only lived a block away,” Lt. Vernon said.
One hour later, security guards at the California Hospital reported a bicycle stolen from inside the hospital lobby. They detained a 17-year-old who was riding away from the hospital on a different bike. Patrol officers reviewed security tape and saw the minor had worked in concert with two other men to steal the bike. One of those men rode off on the bicycle after the three had cased the lobby. “It appears the minor on the bike might have been acting as a lay off or distraction for security if they were to have chased the man on the stolen bike,” Vernon explained. “But the security officer was on the ball.”
After completing their investigation, the patrol officers left with their arrestee. Then, one block from the hospital, they spotted the man seen in the video riding away from the hospital. They arrested Michael Marcelo, 27, but he did not have the $3,000 blue Binic DT bicycle. The officers surmised he may have passed it off to the third suspect seen in the security video, a Hispanic man, 18 to 20 years old, who was wearing a green and yellow Oakland A’s baseball cap.
“Every time we make arrests like this, we get a better idea of how the suspects operate, and what they do with the stolen bikes,” Lt. Vernon said. “Some are resold; sometimes they’re parted out. The hospital theft tends to show these three suspects worked together with a clear intent; whereas in the sting, the suspect just acted on impulse. Either way, they are crimes.”
Marcelo and his juvenile accomplice were booked for Grand Theft. The boy was released to his mother, and Marcelo remains in custody, with bail set at $20,000. The detectives booked Ruvalcaba for Petty Theft and an outstanding arrest warrant for disorderly conduct, related to a lewd conduct arrest in 2008. His bail was set at $41,000.
Police encourage the public to report tips on thefts to the Central Burglary Unit, at 213-972-1231. Anonymous tips can be called into Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or by texting 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Online tips may be placed at www.LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.