8 men have been indicted on 227 counts for allegedly committing a series of crimes including bike shop burglaries and multiple attempted burglaries and thefts in Colorado.
The crimes were carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic from December 2019 until June 2020 with the total value of the stolen vehicles, stolen property, and property damage coming to $1.5 million with the approximate value of the stolen bikes at $985,000.
The robberies focussed on high-end mountain bikes and it's believed that in total 29 bike shops were raided in the spree. The Colorado Attorney General describes
how the burglaries were planned on Facebook Messenger with the individuals operating in groups of up to four to steal either a box truck or van and ram it into the front doors or windows of a bicycle shop, or break the front windows with large landscaping rocks or other tools. After grabbing the bikes, they transferred the stolen goods to another individual for suspected transport out of the country before abandoning the vehicle used in the burglary and fleeing in a second stolen vehicle. One break-in saw $90,000 worth of mountain bikes stolen within five minutes.
The shops that were targeted include: Giant Cycling World in Littleton (hit four times), Totally Wired Cyclery in Fraser (hit twice in 10 days), Boulder Cycle Sport in Boulder, Redstone Cyclery in Lyons, and Cenna Custom Cycles in Longmont.
Attorney General Weiser said, "Working with our law enforcement partners, we broke up this multi-layered criminal enterprise that harmed several businesses and nonprofit organizations 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."
Michael Dougherty, Boulder County District Attorney, 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. The District Attorney’s Office appreciates our strong partnerships with the Boulder Police Department, FBI, and the Attorney General’s Office. Our office remains committed to ensuring that the individuals involved in these property crimes are held fully responsible for their actions. I want to thank Attorney General Weiser for putting together this team effort and fighting for community safety."
The defendants (Kevin Acosta-Larkin, Austin Butler, Gerald Garcia, Maurice Leday, Gregory Melina, Salvador Mena-Barreno, Jason Quijada, and Adrian Rocha-Chairez) are variously charged with violating Colorado’s Organized Crime Control Act (F2), first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft (F4), second-degree burglary (F4), theft (F4), and criminal mischief (F6), in addition to other charges.
Maris Herold, Boulder Police Chief, 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.”
A grand jury indictment is merely a formal accusation that an individual committed a crime under Colorado laws. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. We'll update this story as the trial of these men progresses. More info, here