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Police arrest three suspects in two separate downtown L.A. bicycle thefts

April 16, 2010 | 11:33 am

Police have arrested two men and a boy in separate bike thefts in downtown Los Angeles.

One of the men was arrested during a police sting Tuesday at a drug store, and the other man and his juvenile accomplice were arrested the same day for allegedly stealing a $3,000 bicycle from inside California Hospital Medical Center.

“With bike theft going up last year, we’ve really made bike theft a focus this year and it’s paying off with arrests,” said Lt. Paul Vernon of the Los Angeles Police Department, who heads Central Division investigations. “There appears to be no shortage of thieves willing to walk away with someone’s bike."

Detectives conducted a sting Tuesday around 8 p.m. in front of the CVS store near Sunset Boulevard and Beaudry Street.

“We placed a bike against a water vending machine,” Vernon said. “It took only a couple minutes for the first man to walk up and take the bait.”

Detectives arrested Marcelo Ruvalcaba, 36, when he rode off on the bike after filling a bottle at the vending machine.

“It must have been a pretty impulsive act because he had the water bottle in a book bag, and he only lived a block away,” Vernon said.

Ruvalcaba was booked for petty theft and having an outstanding arrest warrant. His bail was set at $41,000.

About an hour later, security guards at California Hospital Medical Center on South Grand Avenue reported a bicycle stolen from inside the lobby. The guards detained a 17-year-old who was riding away from the hospital on a different bike.

LAPD officers reviewed security tape and saw that the boy had worked with two other men to steal the expensive bicycle.

“It appears the minor on the bike might have been acting as a layoff or distraction for security if they happen to chase the man on the stolen bike,” Vernon said.

As they left the hospital, the officers spotted the man in the security tape riding a bicycle away from the hospital.

Officers arrested Michael Marcelo, 27, and the teen for grand theft. But Vernon said they did not recover the blue Binic DT bicycle.

Vernon said officers believe Marcelo passed it off to the third suspect seen in the security video. Police described that man as a Latino, 18 to 20 years old, wearing a green and yellow Oakland A’s baseball cap.

“Every time we make arrests like this, we get a better idea of how the suspects operate and what they do with the stolen bikes,” Vernon said. “Some are resold; sometimes they’re parted out.

“The hospital theft tends to show these three suspects worked together with a clear intent,” Vernon said, “whereas in the sting, the suspect just acted on impulse. Either way, they are crimes.”

-- Richard Winton