DA Prosecutes Alleged Bicycle Thief

Leah Shahum, the executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, demonstrates how to properly lock a bicycle

Leah Shahum, the executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, demonstrates how to properly lock a bicycle

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An 18-year-old man is facing 20 felony charges for receiving and buying stolen bicycles, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office announced Wednesday.

Police officers arrested Irving Morales-Sanchez on May 17 after finding eight bicycles in his Silver Terrace home and an additional 106 bicycles in a storage locker in Oakland.

Morales-Sanchez pleaded not guilty to the charges on Tuesday after 19 victims identified 20 bicycles as stolen from them, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. So far 30 people have recovered their bikes, according to Ingleside Police Captain Daniel Mahoney.

According to Morales-Sanchez’ attorney, Morales-Sanchez and his family were in the business of selling refurbished bicycles and computers, which they thought were legally obtained, at the Oakland Flea Market, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Morales-Sanchez sold the higher-end bicycles on Craigslist and the rest at the Oakland Flea Market, Mahoney said.

The total worth of the bikes, which were stolen throughout the city, was $10,000, according to a press release from the district attorney’s office.

“This individual was a big seller of stolen bicycles and fueling thieves to steal bicycles for a quick buck,” District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement. “By prosecuting the defendant we are dealing a blow to the marketplace of stolen bicycles.”

An Uptick in Bicycle Thefts

The Ingleside neighborhood experienced an uptick in bicycle thefts from November 2011 to May of this year, Mahoney said.

A large number of the bicycles were stolen from home garages, he said. The Mission experienced a similar trend.

“I was assigned [to Ingleside police station] in May 2011 and wasn’t seeing [thefts] from May to September, maybe an odd one here and there,” Mahoney said. “Starting in November-December, we started seeing it with more regularity.”

It’s not clear whether Morales-Sanchez was part of a network.

“I don’t know if it’s an organized group,” Mahoney said. “What I find is that if someone is doing a crime and they seem to think that it’s working they continue to do that until they are stopped.”

The arrest has already had positive affect, the captain said. “Ever since we made the arrest the burglaries have dropped very drastically.”

The Ingleside police station encouraged people whose bikes have been stolen to check its bike recovery page.

Locking Your Bike

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition praised the police department and the district attorney for giving importance to the case.

The group’s polls consistently show that bike theft is one of the biggest deterrents to increasing bike ridership, according to Leah Shahum, the coalition’s executive director.

In the past five years, the number of bike trips in San Francisco have increased by 71 percent, according to the coalition.

The coalition took the opportunity to offer a few tips on how to lock a bike:

- Always lock your bike with a U-lock (the sturdier the better) and secure the frame to a bike rack or pole.

- Park your bike in a visible, populated area.

- Consider securing your wheels and seat with skewers, or an additional cable, along with your U-lock.

- Never lock your bike to a handrail or a loose object.

 

4 Comments

  1. steve

    Part of the problem is that many bike shops and most department stores sell really terrible quality bicycle locks that can be quickly cut with hand tools. That includes cheaper U-locks. Better quality locks can only be easily defeated with power tools, which make so much noise that crooks are unlikely to use them, at least during daylight hours in visible locations. Merchants need to do a much better job at education consumers about which locks are suitable for the city.

  2. Good story and great news. However, I think there is a typo since I have trouble believing that the total value of the 114 bikes stolen was only $10,000. One really good bike can cost up to $10,000 and though most bikes weren’t that high end, putting the value at $10,000 total makes the average bike worth only $87, which I know is hardly the case. Perhaps it should be $100,000 instead?

  3. Tom Basic

    “Morales-Sanchez and his family were in the business of selling refurbished bicycles and computers, which they thought were legally obtained, at the Oakland Flea Market.”

    I’ve sold and bought a few used bikes, and I’ve also been to the Oakland Flea Market and to the AT Showdown Cow Palace swap, along with having seen other “swap” or “bike bazaar” type places. From my experience, I will state the following:

    - The bike stuff at any flea or swap market place is almost always in cruddy condition. It is VERY rare to find reasonably nice stuff at these places.
    - If you do find nice stuff at these places, it’s usually obsolete, NOS (New Old Stock) stuff that’s pretty undesirable.
    - It is VERY hard to make a profit selling stuff, unless you got it for a steal (pun intended). With the advent of Ebay and other online marketplaces, along with the increasing presence of Asian-manufactured-parts sellers on those marketplaces, being a successful used bike broker is very tough.
    - Ergo, Morales-Sanchez and his family are probably full of poo. If they were selling crap stuff, they’d be back at the market, every week, unsuccessfully trying to sell the same old junk. If they were selling nice stuff and making a profit, then it’d be almost guaranteed to be stolen goods.

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