Police in Colorado have broken up a $1.5 million bike theft ring that targeted shops selling high-end bicycles, with the stolen goods then believed to be sold in Mexico with fences helping get them out of the US.
The state Attorney General’s Office says that the eight individuals, who were arrested following an investigation code named Operation Vicious Cycle, have been indicted by a statewide grand jury with offences including burglary and auto theft.
In all, 227 charges have been laid against the gang, which operated between December 2019 and June 2020.
They are said to have used Facebook to plan their raids on bike shops in cities including Denver and Boulder – the latter being named the country’s best city for cycling by the advocacy group People on Bikes.
They suspects operated in teams of four, staging ram raids on shops using stolen vehicles then making off in a second stolen vehicle with the bikes they had stolen – with one video showing them stealing $90,000 worth of bikes in just five minutes.
Some shops were targeted on multiple occasions, with Giant Cycling World in Littleton hit four times over the course of several months and Totally Wired Cyclery in Fraser burgled twice in 10 days.
“Auto thefts and property crimes have increased significantly during the last two years,” said Attorney General Phil Weiser.
“Working with our law enforcement partners, we broke up this multi-layered criminal enterprise that harmed several businesses and non-profit organisations in the mountain communities and Denver metro and Boulder areas. We will hold these individuals to account for their actions and harm they caused to the victims and our communities.”
Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said: “From speaking with bike store owners, I know that these break-ins and thefts have caused significant harm for the victims and our communities.
“This indictment is the direct result of a united, tireless effort to bring down a multi-jurisdictional theft operation.”
Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said: “This was a complex investigation that would not have been possible were it not for the great work of everyone involved and the phenomenal collaboration of all of these agencies.
“The City of Boulder experiences over one million dollars in bike theft yearly, causing significant community harm. This investigation and subsequent arrests are not only a good example of the hard work and dedication of what detectives do every day, but it also shows the community how seriously we take these crimes.”
The eight individuals will now stand trial on the various charges at a future date.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.