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High-end bike theft ring busted in LA

May 9, 2012 9:10:32 PM PDT
A high-end bicycle theft ring has been dismantled after L.A. County Sheriff's investigators arrested three men and recovered tens of thousands of dollars' worth of bicycle parts. Authorities say the thieves targeted bicycle enthusiasts across six Southern California counties who bought and sold their bikes and gear on Craigslist.

More than 40 high-end road bikes and twice as many expensive racing wheels were seized by L.A. County Sheriff's Major Crimes Unit after a month-long residential burglary investigation ended in the arrests of three men.

Julian Herrera, 23; his brother Jaime Herrera, 21; and 24-year-old Alberto Mejia were arrested. Authorities say they targeted people on Craigslist selling bicycles worth $5,000 to $15,000 each.

"The suspects that were arrested would make contact with the victims by using fictitious names, fictitious email accounts, basically faux cyber identities," said Sheriff's Sergeant Michael Maher.

Investigators say the suspects posed as interested buyers to get the home addresses of their victims, then they would break into their garages using a burglary tools.

"The suspects would then drive to the targeted residences and burglarize them between the hours of 1 and 4 a.m. typically," said Maher. "Oftentimes the victims were just steps away, asleep inside their own homes when the burglary was taking place."

According to investigators, the suspects admitted to stealing more than 100 bicycles and breaking them down into parts that they sold to the owner of a bike shop on Venice Blvd. The owner would then sell the components to unsuspecting buyers.

Authorities say the crime ring was going so well that the bike-shop owner had just rented an additional storage unit to house the stolen bikes.

The bike shop owner has not been arrested. Investigators say he's been cooperating with the investigation, but charges may follow.

As for the suspects, they're being held on $2 million bail each.

Authorities say if you believe your bicycle has been stolen by these suspects, call L.A. County Sheriff's Major Crimes Bureau at (562) 946-7893.

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