Bicycle Theft Sting Results in Arrests

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Complaints received from the community in regards to bicycle thefts near the Belmont Pier prompted East Division’s Directed Enforcement team to focus on these types of crimes in that area, in addition to coordinating a bike theft sting that resulted in three arrests, and the issuance of five misdemeanor citations.

Information received from business and neighborhood associations regarding their concerns was relayed to the Police Department, after information and experiences were shared through NextDoor.com, an online communication tool available to residents to become informed about what is happening in their neighborhood.

During the past week, East Division officers conducted enforcement around the Belmont Pier area, resulting in the arrest of an individual for possession of drugs and possession of burglary tools, which are commonly used to steal bicycles. Additionally, officers made contact with five subjects loitering near the pier who were cited for various misdemeanor violations. Eight bikes were found under the Belmont Pier, and presumed stolen, since their owners could not be located. The bicycles were placed into property.

On Saturday, April 11, 2015, plainclothes detectives placed a decoy bicycle in the area of Ocean Boulevard and Termino Avenue, and secured it to a light post with a cable and padlock. They watched from nearby as two male subjects eyed the bicycle. Both subjects were riding bicycles, with one of the subjects rolling a second bike next to him. At one point, the subject with two bicycles, later identified as 51-year-old Timothy Lewis, left the area, and returned a short time later on foot. He approached the decoy bike, along with the second subject, later identified as 49-year-old Joseph Griffin. As Griffin acted as the lookout, Lewis cut the cable off the bike and rode away on it, all in a matter of less than 10 seconds.

Suspect Lewis was detained by officers on Ocean Boulevard near Roswell Avenue and taken into custody. He was found with a pair of cable cutters in his hand. Suspect Griffin was also arrested near Bennett Avenue and Division Street.

Lewis was booked for: grand theft, receiving known stolen property, conspiracy, possession of burglary tools, in addition to two outstanding warrants (vandalism and failure to appear). Griffin was booked for: grand theft, conspiracy, possession of burglary tools, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

On Tuesday, April 14, 2015, Burglary detectives presented the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, and one count of grand theft was filed against both Lewis and Griffin. Lewis will remain in-custody on $40,000 bail and Griffin on $20,000 bail, at the Los Angeles County Men’s Jail.

Through their investigation, officers determined that the three bicycles Lewis and Griffin originally had in their possession were also stolen. The bikes were recovered and placed into evidence. Attempts will be made to return them to their rightful owners at the conclusion of the investigation. None of the eight bikes found under the pier could be verified as stolen, likely due to either a report not having been filed, or the owner not having the serial number to include in the report. Stated East Division Commander Liz Griffin, “The community must be reminded they cannot reclaim a stolen bike unless a report has been filed and they can prove ownership, which is why it’s critical they record serial numbers. Taking photos of their bikes can also be helpful to investigators.”

The Police Department is grateful to the community organizations and members who recognized a problem occurring in their neighborhood, and called police. Stated East Division Commander Liz Griffin, “Good things can happen when we work together. This was a clear example of the community working with us to improve neighborhood safety for everyone in our City.”

The Police Department strongly encourages the community to practice the following safety tips, which may prevent a bicycle from being stolen, or assist in identifying ownership should it be recovered:

  • Store bikes in locked areas when possible and secure them to fixed objects with adequate locks
  • U-shaped locks are sturdier and recommended over chains/cables with padlocks
  • Record serial #, brand, and take photos of bike, and keep in a safe place
  • If bike is stolen, be sure to file a police report and provide serial # and brand
  • Residents can also register their bikes with www.nationalbikeregistry.com, which can also assist police in determining a bike’s ownership

Anyone with information regarding these incidents is asked to contact Long Beach Police Burglary Detectives Songcheak Ier and Daniel Haas at (562) 570-5810.

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