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[whitespace] City hit with another rash of bike thefts

Five bicycles stolen from Pruneridge Avenue in five days

Cupertino--Bike owners beware--bicycle thefts have started again on Pruneridge Avenue and near the Vallco Fashion Park.

An unknown thief or thieves stole five bikes from the area between July 24 and 28, most of them from apartment complexes on Pruneridge Avenue. The sherrif's office has not apprehended any suspect in the robberies.

Similar robberies occurred in the neighborhood between June 18 and 23. After an investigation, sheriff's deputies located several of the stolen bicycles among a collection of bikes at a transient camp near Wolfe Road and Highway 280. Deputies arrested the man living at the camp, who they believe stole the bikes.

These new thefts occurred while that man sits in jail, however, leading the authorities to believe that a different thief has moved in to take advantage of a bicycle-rich part of town. The sheriff's department had also expressed the difficulty of connecting the jailed transient to the actual thefts, which raises the possibility that he may have acted with accomplices or just handled the bikes after the thefts.

Despite its designation by the city council as a "blighted area," the neighborhoods around Vallco enjoy a high number of bike enthusiasts with a lot of nice gear.

"People in Cupertino tend to spend more money, and bikes are costing more overall," said Sergeant Mike Powers from the sheriff's office. Powers handled the previous investigation into the bike thefts, and is working to catch the most recent thieves.

He said he thinks the fact that a lot of people in the area buy nicer bikes to ride to work entices thieves to take them. He also believes that bike thieves target the highly accessorized mountain bikes that serious hobbyists use, since the thieves can strip the parts and easily sell them off.

"Cupertino is experiencing a rise in bicycle thefts," Powers said. The phenomenon, however, extends beyond Cupertino. "They're having them all over," he said. "It's not just Cupertino."

He said that many of the bikes recovered in the raid on the transient camp belonged to owners from surrounding cities, not only Cupertino.

The ongoing investigation has not focused on any particular area, despite the centralized location of the thefts. The department wants to examine all possibilities, he says.

Powers urges all bike owners in Cupertino, and especially those in the Vallco area, to take the proper precautions to protect their property.

"We encourage residents to keep their bikes securely locked up inside a locked building, not on their front lawns," he said.

Powers also suggests making identifying markings on the bikes to aid police in returning it in case of theft. This also helps determine if a bicycle has been stolen or not. Powers says that without an identifying mark, such as a driver's license number, etched into the bike near the serial number, the department cannot prove that a bike in someone's possession does not belong to them.

With a driver's license number carved into the bike frame, nine times out of ten, police make an arrest and end up recovering the property, according to Powers.
Kevin Fayle

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