REDLANDS – Police arrested a man suspected of stealing at least eight bicycles on Monday, having set up the 40-year-old man by planting a bicycle and keeping tabs of its whereabouts.
Police were mounting evidence to arrest Erik Andrew Martinez, 40, on possession of stolen property after police originally tracked him down through a Craigslist ad that was placed on Dec. 1.
Each of the thefts occurred on the University of Redlands campus.
A university student told police that he saw his bicycle, stolen on Nov. 29, listed in a Craigslist ad. “We were able to recover the bicycle,” said Lt. Travis Martinez, “and track down (the suspect).”
Police had arranged the purchase of that bicycle from an address in Bloomington, which is 15 miles west of Redlands. Police linked Martinez to that bicycle along with other evidence.
Another student, whose bike was stolen in September, also saw her stolen bicycle advertised on Craiglist. Since the beginning of the school year, the university has had several reports of bicycle thefts.
“He hit us a bunch of times,” said Lt. Martinez, who is no relation to the suspect.
Martinez said Redlands police used a mountain bike donated by a local bicycle shop, setting up an undercover operation on the campus. Police locked the bicycle to a bike rack in front of the school’s swimming complex on Brockton Ave.
At 10:15 a.m. on Friday, a Redlands police officer spotted the suspect on the campus. A short time later, the bicycle was missing. The officer tracked Martinez and the stolen bicycle to a garage in the 1200 block of Cornell Ave., less than a mile from the campus.
Police recovered the bicycle along with other various parts.
Lt. Martinez said, “The three bicycles he stole from us (were recovered), that’s three, plus we found five cut (bicycle) locks in his garage.” He said police suspect him for other thefts, but haven’t yet tied him to any other crimes.
In the suspect’s garage, numerous bicycle parts – rims, seats, brake parts and bike bags were recovered. Lt. Martinez said it seemed like a bicycle “chop shop” had been discovered.
The suspect was taken to the Central Detention Center in San Bernardino.
Police are still seeking other victims of bike thefts, said Lt. Martinez. Contact Corporal Don Bryson (firstname.lastname@example.org or 909-798-7681).
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