Tempe police are targeting bicycle thieves who have been stealing bikes, mostly from students, and selling them on Craigslist or eBay to support their drug habit, according to investigators.
Police launched the operation in downtown Tempe in mid-January and it has so far resulted in the recovery of more than 30 bicycles, bike parts valued at nearly $25,000 and three arrests, said Sgt. Mike Pooley, a Tempe police spokesman.
The Tempe police operation recognizes the importance of bicycles in a college town.
Authorities say that, rather than considering bicycle theft to be a typical misdemeanor crime, officers from Tempe and Arizona State University police are investigating theft rings, serving search warrants to recover stolen bikes and seeking felony trafficking in stolen property charges against suspects.
The Tempe crackdown comes as ASU police continue to target the chronic bike-theft problem with a combination of education, enforcement and providing safer places for owners to secure their bikes, Assistant Chief Jim Hardina said.
ASU features a “bike valet” near the student union where bicycles are watched for their owners. ASU also has been encouraging bicycle registration and is adding bicycle cages, where owners can store their bicycles safely.
Bicycle theft is a classic crime of opportunity, Hardina said.
“Less than two percent of the bikes stolen are locked properly,” he said. “We tell people, park your car, ride your bike, but that doesn’t work if your bike is stolen.”
Tempe police identified the three people arrested during “Operation Bike Peddler” as Loren Henderson, 46, Jeffrey Barthold, 51 and Brian Meier, 50.
“They are stealing $1,000 bikes and selling them for $150-$200,” Pooley said. “They are using the money to buy drugs and feed their addiction.”
In addition to finding bicycles and bicycle parts, police found electronics, drug paraphernalia, prescription drugs, heroin and methamphetamine when they served search warrants, he said.
Pooley urged bicycle owners, many of whom depend upon their bicycles as their primary means of transportation, to register them on the city’s website so that it would be easier for police to match stolen bicycles with their owners.
Pooley said police realize some of the bikes that investigators have recovered are stolen, but police have not been able to return them to their rightful owners because the serial numbers are not registered.
The most expensive bicycle stolen was valued at $11,000, Pooley said. He said many of the victims have been Arizona State University students who need their bicycles to get to class or to off-campus jobs.
“It creates a hardship for them” when bicycles are stolen, Pooley said.
Firstly, TEMPE PD was the one who cracked this bike theft ring; why is ASUPD even mentioned (other than to tout their “bike valet program”)?
Secondly, ASUPD is NOT “investigating theft rings, serving search warrants to recover stolen bikes and seeking felony trafficking in stolen property charges against suspects”. There is ONE competent Detective left in Investigations (since the only other competent Detective left for another agency) who doesn’t have the resources to do all these things himself. The other “Detective”, Jennifer Bryner spends her workday day taking long lunches/BSing with other employees, not actually doing any sort of investigative work.
This entire article is a prime example of how ASUPD attempts to piggyback off the legitimate police work done by Tempe PD.