Update on the Garland’s Stolen Bicycles

Fellow cyclist Kevin Wood spotted Aaron Garland’s bicycle earlier this afternoon. He sent in a writeup that I’ve included below along with a photo of the person holding what may be Aaron’s bicycle. The person in the photo may not be the bicycle thief and may have purchased the bicycle not knowing it was stolen. If you see the person in the photo please do not do anything rash. Instead, please call the San Diego Police at 911. If you are the person in the photograph, please call the Police Department to notify them where you obtained the bicycle so this case can be closed. The Garland’s case number is: s 11-028810.

Aaron Garland’s bike stolen two weeks ago was spotted on a trolley this afternoon. It had been modified but was still identifiable. The police were helpful, but were unable to apprehend the suspect. Picture of the suspect attached.

Today, around 3:20 I was walking my bike through the America Plaza trolley station to get to the Amtrak station to buy some tickets. I saw a guy riding his bike through the station to get to the trolley. My first instinct was to yell at the guy for riding ‘his’ bike on the sidewalk, but when I saw he was getting on the trolley, I didn’t say anything. As is my habit, I checked out the bike as he was loading it on to the train. It was a touring frame with canti breaks and drop handlebars. When I saw the black brooks saddle secured to the frame with a piece of chain wraped in an old tube, I realized it was Aaron’s bike without racks or fenders and with the handlebars from his wife’s stolen bike. For some reason my first instinct was to whip out my phone and take a picture. The trolley doors quickly shut and I ran across to the Santa Fe depot to see if there was a security guard I could talk to. I didn’t see anyone, and called Aaron, who told me to call the police. The 911 operator I reached from my cell phone had to transfer me to the San Diego Police Department, who took my description of the situation before calling a trolley security dispatcher who took my description of the suspect and the bike and identified what trolley the suspect was on. They asked if the bike had special parts that made it identifiable and asked if we had the serial number for the frame The dispatcher was able to pull the police report that the Garlands had filed and give the information to the Trolley dispatcher.

Although security at Old Town was alerted the suspect did not exit the trolley at Old TOwn. I assume that the suspect exited at Washington Street, or perhaps Middletown, since it is unlikely he would take a trolley from America Plaza 8 blocks to Little Italy.

Take away message:

*Call the police first: I’m not sure if it would have made any difference, but in the two minutes I that it took me to run to the next station and to call Aaron, the police could have been more mobilized.

* Get a police report if your bike is stolen. The police made it sound like they wouldn’t have pursued the guy if there wasn’t a report out on the bike theft. I have dealt with the LAPD on bike theft and they told me that they wouldn’t pursue a bike thief unless I was physically assaulted and had the bike taken from me. They also made me feel like I was wasting their time by filling out a report. The SDPD seems a little more responsive

*Make sure you know your serial number: The police also made it sound like a serial number would be needed to make a positive identification of the bike since parts had been changed. Take five minutes now to turn your bike upside down and write down your bicycle serial number.

*Parts may be swapped out, but your bike may not go far. The bikes were stolen in Mission Bay. The suspect was riding the bike around downtown and taking the trolley back towards Old Town. There is a decent chance that the person riding it is not the person who stole it, but it does mean that whoever stole and modified it resells/fences the bikes locally.

I know Aaron and Andrea would be appreciative if you kept your eyes out for this bike and or the suspect. Perhaps we should look for it locked up downtown if the suspect is a frequent visitor. The suspect is a white male, mid 30’s thin build. a description of the bikes can be seen here, but note that the LHT now has drop handlebars with celeste tape.

And remember to keep your bikes locked up to something solid with U lock.

The person seen riding a bicycle remarkably similar to Aaron Garland's. Photo by Kevin Wood.

If your bicycle does get stolen, please register it at the Stolen Bicycle Registry. The registry helps keep track of all stolen bikes in San Diego and is free to use.