AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police charged four people suspected of stealing nearly $70,000 worth of bicycles from shops across Texas. Police say the suspects were renting high-end bicycles with fake IDs and bogus credit cards and not returning the bike, but rather listing them for sale online.
Austin’s Downtown Metro Tactical team started looking into several similar cases in November after a bike was reported stolen from Mellow Johnny’s. Officers found The Bicycle Sport Shop in Austin and several other bike shops across Texas were victims of the same scheme.
Through a coordinated effort with several police departments, officers watched on Jan. 8 as Jonathan Lee Oldham, 30, rented a bike in the Dallas area and drove it back to Austin. Oldham then put the bike up for sale on Craigslist, police said, and undercover officers arranged a meeting to purchase the bike.
Oldham was arrested at a marina on Lake Austin and charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, a third-degree felony. Police also recovered an overdue U-Haul that Oldham was driving along with a stolen bike and other bike parts. He was also trying to sell a ski boat that didn’t belong to him, police added.
As part of the investigation, police also charged 34-year-old William David Wagner with engaging in organized criminal activity and arrested Kerry Scott Hendricks, 49, on theft charges. A fourth suspect, Maya Symone Fisher, 20, is not yet in custody.
Bike shops in Austin lost more than $16,000 in the thefts, police added. Authorities said the group also stole bikes from stores in Allen, Coppell, Flower Mound, Houston, Richardson and San Antonio. Those departments are planning to file additional charges related to the crime ring.
There were more than 1,400 bike thefts reported in Austin in 2014 and police say registering your bicycle is the best way to fight against theft. APD said nearly 1,000 people took advantage of this service at their latest bike registration event.