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Bike couriers chase down bicycle thief in wild downtown pursuit

The location where the bike was stolen. Click for the Downtown Mapping L.A. Neighborhoods page to learn more about the area. Two bike messengers saved the day for a Los Angeles man Monday when they chased a bike thief for five blocks downtown and then knocked him to the ground, causing him to flee, police said.

Jesus Tobar, 43, said he was working out at 24-Hour Fitness in the 500 block of Flower Street in downtown Los Angeles when he emerged to find his green Iron Horse Desperado Mountain Bike gone.

Tobar returned to the gym to ask if there was any security surveillance video. But two bike couriers had seen his $500 bike being taken and had already set off after the thief.

The couriers pedaled through downtown at high speed on a chase that traversed sidewalks and busy streets, said LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith. Eventually, one of the messengers was able to grab the thief's shirt and pull him to the ground.

The man then took off on foot and the couriers reclaimed the bike.

"This was a wild, high-speed bicycle chase through crowded streets of the Jewelry Mart," Smith said. "We are now looking for a 30-year-old man with a torn shirt, a possibly sprained ankle, as well as road rash."

Although this case had a happy ending, officials say bike thefts have been on the rise, increasing 29% last year and bucking an overall drop in crime. Los Angeles Police Department detectives believe the increase is in part a result of more people using bikes to get around in some neighborhoods.

A Times analysis of LAPD data found the USC campus area, Venice, parts of Hollywood and downtown L.A. to be hot spots for bike thefts.

As the thefts have increased, some people have taken matters into their own hands. Last month, bike messengers downtown caught two suspected thieves, teenage boys who attended a local Catholic high school, and stripped them down to their boxer shorts before taking their cellphones, backpacks and clothes.

-- Andrew Blankstein

Map: The location where the bike was stolen. Click for the Downtown Mapping L.A. Neighborhoods page to learn more about the area.

 
Comments () | Archives (25)

Congratulations to these heroes! I guess the police were too busy arresting cannabis dispensary owners, as opposed to tackling REAL crime. Way to go guys!

In reading that last paragraph, it seems like these bike messengers are commiting theft themselves. I see a problem here.

[still 1]looks like the bike messengers...
[still 2]gave the guy a message...
[still 3]of street justice...
[still 4]YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

My wife prevented me from stopping a guy who was walking out of Macy's employee's door with a bike several years ago in Santa Barbara. The next day I learned that in fact a Macy's employee reported her bike mssing. I knew the guy was not the owner because he was not wearing any kind of decent clothing. This kind of crime is happening more and more, it seems that thieves think bikes have no value.

I would not hesitate again if I see someone stealing...

Nice job boys!! civic duty and helping your fellow man ...
Somebody buy these guys a tall frothy cold one will ya?!

Here in Venice you see the thieves all the time riding down the street with an extra bike or wheels in their hands.

If you want to reclaim a stolen bike you go to the Boardwalk, down by Rose, and you'll most likely find it being parted out.

Jay

>>As the thefts have increased, some people have taken matters into their own hands. Last month, bike messengers downtown caught two suspected thieves, teenage boys who attended a local Catholic high school, and stripped them down to their boxer shorts before taking their cellphones, backpacks and clothes.<<

awesome

Very cool that these bike messengers cared enough to get involved.

"We are now looking for a 30-year-old man with a torn shirt, a possibly sprained ankle, as well as road rash."

Height, weight, build, ethnicity, (facial) hair, tattoo's might also help.

Uh, I hope the bike messengers who stripped the teenage boys were arrested... how 'bout reporting on that? Stopping a thief is one thing, but vigilantism is another.

I am glad this guy was chased down. My bike was stolen In Griffth Park. Cops did no do anything. I waited for the park rangers or cops but nobody came. I gave up, and I went home.

You have to punish the thieves on the streets since they will not face any charges to deter them.

I HAVE NO PROBLEM with the bike messengers stripping these guys down to their skivvies and taking their clothes and phones.
cops wouldnt even show up for a stolen bike report, you have to go to the station.
so this is the community response to dealing with what the cops refuse to deal with.

Yes! There are few things in life that feels better than money---- catching a thief and teaching them a thing or two in Karma 101. Campus is located between Owned and Noob.

Bicycle thieves aren't local most of the time. That is another thing that is a negative. Not only do they take what they didn't work for, but they cause hostility. Out of state plates are what police should watch out for. Lock up both wheels and the frame to a bike rack. Always.

Those messengers were lucky that thief didn't have a weapon!
Something has to be done about all the bicycles downtown...the congestion is overwhelming...too many cars...more and more pedistrians who are constantly pushed off the sidewalks because of these bike riders. There shouldn't be any bikes, skateboards on our city streets...especially downtown where the streets are old, broken and narrow!
Do SOMETHING City Council!

How many people did these bike messengers endanger by riding wildly on the sidewalks? I have a friend who was walking on the sidewalk at 5th and Flower and was hit by a bike messenger. My friend received three broken ribs, and what did the bike messenger do? He looked at my friend lying on the ground and took off. For those of us who have to "share" the sidewalks with these menaces they are anything but heroes.

Nice post, arggg - against the grain is not why you missed the mark. Bet you don't own a bike. If my stolen bike was treated to some messenger justice, I would take a few folks out to a really nice dinner. Don't you hate bad guys, arggg? Stripping down and removal of goods is far better than a whupping with a bike chain - which is what bike thieves deserve. Sounds like the messengers held back and kept their composure.

Great to hear that others are being 'aware' of what's going on around them and then chasing the thief rather then letting someone else do it. This is not always feasible as some thieves have weapons and this should be done with ' caution' . The police would only tell you to NOT do it, but then in this case this man would have lost his bike. Bravo to the heros.

A high speed bicycle chase on busy streets and sidewalks?
That's plain stupid! Risking their safety over a stolen bike that wasn't even theirs is plain dumb. They were not supposed to ride on the sidewalks.They could have been ran over or caused a car/pedestrian collision. What would their boss say if they got injured or created a liability? They would probably be fired! When a theft occurs, get all the facts and suspect description and turn it over to the police.
As a cyclist, I own four bikes, they are registered and, in the event of theft, these are covered by insurance. Most homeowner or renters insurance cover bikes.

Great job! Glad the good guys weren't hurt

That's one for the good guys ! Zero for the bad guy !

That was too funny about the boys in their boxers. I guess mom was right about wearing clean shorts. Gotta love it.

Steal a man's horse & you die. Same for the bike.

Great to see two bike couriers doing their bit for the community.
Also glad to hear that in the words of the LAPD that this had a happy ending as in the UK the bike messengers would probably have been arrested for assault.

Thats how stupid the law in our country has become. We are not even allowed to grab thieves or burglars without there being a very good chance of being done by the police ourselves.
Most people in th UK love the fact that Americans have the right to defend what is theirs.
Victims in UK have no rights but the good old bad guys can always go to the European Court Of Human Rights to help them out.

I credit that to our government, what a fine bunch of tossers they are.


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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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