Seattle police may have broken up a stolen bike ring earlier this week after officers searched a storage facility in North Seattle and found a bicycle chop shop inside.
According to a police document, shortly after midnight on March 16th, several utility workers spotted "a handful of people...'stripping bicycles'" at storage facility in the 10800 block of Lake City Way.
After watching the group of men cram "complete, or disassembled, crammed into the back of a pickup truck" for four hours, the document says, the workers called 911.
Officers arrived and contacted a 45-year-old man at the scene, who told police he and his friends had been loading the bikes for transport to his home in Lacey, WA, and "insisted they were 'legal' and not stolen." The man told police he had purchased the bikes on Craigslist.com to be recycled and re-sold.
When police found dozens of bicycles "literally piled in heaps against each other" inside the man's storage locker at the facility, he told officers they were welcome to check the serial numbers on the bikes—which, the police document says, were "mostly high-value and...specialized bicycles.
Officers immeditaely found that "an expensive disassembled ladies James Allegro mountain bike frame" had been reported stolen from Gas Works Park in December. When police confronted the man about the stolen bike, he "expressed surprise," the police affidavit says.
Police asked one of the men who'd been helping load the bikes into the thruck about how many of them were stolen. According to the police document, he responded, "probably all of them."
Police arrested the 45-year-old man and booked him into the King County Jail for possession of stolen property. It appears he has not yet been charged.
Police believe the 45-year-old man may have been living in and conducting business out of the storage unit, and also found several other people living in storage units, which had been equipped with space heaters.
According to the police document, the man has a "lenghty criminal history involving burglary arrests and bicycle theft" and was recently charged for possessing a stolen bicycle after a woman reported the man for trying to sell her stolen bicycle on Craigslist for $1400.
Police are seeking warrant to search the man's email and phone records for information about the sale or theft of any of the bicycles.