Your bikes are not safe -- even inside your apartment building.
After writing about a new smartphone app designed to help cyclists retrieve stolen bikes, we heard from one Denver user whose custom-made bike was stolen in July from inside his apartment building. Turns out he's not the only victim.
That's right -- there's an alleged serial bike thief on the loose in Denver, and although police have several very clear photos of him from early July, the suspect is still at large, according to a DPD spokesman.
Here are two photos of the suspect, taken outside the apartment building where he is alleged to have snatched a handful of bikes earlier this summer.
Patrick Obando, who owns one of the stolen bikes, tells us that he was out of town over the Fourth of July holiday weekend when he heard there was some kind of "security breach" in his building, at 90 Corona Street. A week later when he went to ride his bike, he realized that it had been stolen right out of a bike storage facility in the building. The bikes in the building are locked in "bike igloos" -- mini storage structures that fit a single bike. Apparently the alleged thief was able to pry it open and steal Obando's custom-made black and red Republic bike.
And several others.
Obando says that from what he understands, the thief stole a total of eight bicycles from inside the apartment building at around 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. on July 2. A DPD spokesman tells us that at least four bikes were stolen, possibly during several separate incidents at that apartment complex. An alert sent out later in July through 9News Crime Stoppers with one of those photos describes the suspect as a twenty-something white or Hispanic man approximately five-ten tall and weighing 155 pounds.
"It's just been terrible," says Obando, 33, who custom-designed the bike online at a cost of $450. "To know that it was stolen when it was in my apartment building...that really made me upset."
And here's a weird part of the story: The bike thief apparently came back in the morning the next day, perhaps to try and steal more. An employee for the building on site snapped those clear shots of the suspect, who had a bike with him, and that's how DPD ended up with the photos. They were not, however, able to arrest the suspect.
"I'm hopeful that it will show up," says Obando, a marketing director who works at 16th Street and Stout. He's now driving in to work, and will do so until the bike turns up or he decides to buy a new one.
"It's a nine-minute bike ride versus a 25-minute car ride," he says.
Obando says he is especially frustrated, because his management company, Liongate, prohibits residents from keeping bikes in their apartments, meaning they have to be kept inside the storage room -- which was not secure enough to stop the thief earlier this summer.
A representative from the management company was not available for comment today.
Here's a photo of Obando's missing bike, which is also part of an alert he sent out through alerts sent out through GetOutt.com, the new company we wrote about that aims to spread the word locally when bike or other gear are stolen.
It's also possible this same suspect has targeted other nearby buildings. After Obando posted about his stolen bike, Scott Marsh, a Facebook friend, commented that more than ten bikes were stolen from his building just a few blocks away, around the same time in July.
Marsh, who lives at 65 Clarkson Street, says a thief somehow got into his building and inside a room where bikes are stored. He subsequently stole more than ten bikes. He adds that his building manager had showed him the same photo that Obando ended up sending around, leaving him to believe the suspect might be responsible for the crime in his building.
According to Marsh, his brakes, levers, seat post and saddle were snatched off of his bike. Many others reported that their full bikes had been grabbed and taken from the building.
The thieves "did a combination of taking bikes that weren't locked up and cutting locks that were easy to cut," says Marsh, adding that his fiance's entire mountain bike was stolen.
As of this writing, a spokesman for DPD couldn't confirm this other incident and whether police believe the same suspect might be involved.
David Quintana, the building manager at 65 Clarkson Street, says he's pretty certain that the suspect for 90 Corona Street is the same guy who broke into his building.
Quintana thinks there were three separate incidents at his building. First, he believes, the suspect stole some parts from bikes before coming back on two separate occasions, stealing around four bikes each time. He was on vacation during the thefts, and since then, he's changed locks in the building and installed security cameras. This is the first time in the twelve years he's been at the building that bikes have ever been stolen -- and as we've reported, more and more bikes are getting stolen across the city this year.
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"I am surprised he hasn't been caught, especially since they have pictures of him," he says, adding, "If he comes back, we'll have cameras."
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