Amateur Sleuth Uncovers a Wild Stolen Bike Network

Pricey two-wheelers taken in Northwest have been showing up in Mexico
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2024 3:45 PM CDT
Amateur Sleuth Uncovers a Wild Stolen Bike Network
   (Getty / EsbenAF)

A customized bicycle these days can run $10,000, which goes a long way toward explaining why bike theft has evolved from the "quaint" days of yesteryear into a criminal enterprise, writes Christopher Solomon at Wired. (Think neighborhood-roaming trucks equipped with ladders.) Solomon's story provides an astonishing example thanks to an amateur sleuth named Bryan Hance of Portland, Oregon. Hance is co-founder of the Bike Index, where people can register their bikes and report them stolen. The site has helped get more than 14,000 bikes back to their owners over the last decade, making Hance quite fluent in the ways of modern bike thievery. But even he was blown away when he uncovered a brazen network stealing bikes from the Northwest (and around the world, for that matter) and reselling them 2,000 miles away in Mexico.

"The Amazon of stolen bikes," Hance says of an Instagram page belonging to a Jalisco company that calls itself Constru-Bikes. On it, Solomon was easily able to match bikes for sale by the company to those registered as stolen on the Bike Index. But how was this possible? Through some impressive dot-connecting via posted images over four years, he alerted police to the owner of an auto shop in San Jose, California, who has since been arrested as an alleged accomplice. Hance initially thought he'd cracked the supply ring, but found to his disappointment that Constru-Bikes continues to operate as normal. Solomon even speaks by phone to the person identified as its owner, who angrily denies any connection. Hance, who estimates the man has sold more than $2 million in stolen bikes since 2020, appears to have lost hope of an arrest. (Read the full story.)

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