police line crime story
(Photo/carl ballou via Shutterstock)

Busted: Police Capture Massive $1.5M Bike Theft Ring

On Wednesday, a grand jury indicted eight individuals for causing $1.5 million in damage to bikes and vehicles during a crime spree in Colorado’s Front Range. They face a total of 227 counts, ranging from burglary to first-degree theft.

Justin Mattison, owner of The Bikery at Breckenridge Brewery in Littleton, Colo., calls his inventory “rolling Rolexes.” So, he says, “it makes sense why people would go after them.”

From December 2019 to June 2020, a group of eight people “went after” a lot of bicycles in the Front Range. On Wednesday, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser charged the group for incidents in the Denver and Boulder areas. In total, they face 227 counts of various forms of theft in conjunction with 29 bike shop robberies and 22 auto thefts. All eight face felony charges.

The indictment says that the group planned the crimes using Facebook Messenger, then stole box trucks to smash through bike shop windows. Then, it alleges, the group sold the stolen bikes to other criminals out of state and possibly in Mexico.

Altogether, the eight individuals are accused of stealing $985,000 worth of bicycles, $258,000 worth of vehicles, and causing $231,837 worth of property damage to both cars and businesses.

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Front Range Bike Theft Has Local and Global Implications

“A million dollars isn’t even scratching the surface, in my opinion,” Mattison told Denver’s FOX31. “I would guess there’s a lot more that’s happened beyond that we’ve never even gotten to the bottom of.”

It’s well-known that the bicycle industry boomed during the pandemic. At the same time, supply chains suffered worldwide. As a result, many shops like The Bikery struggled to keep enough inventory on their shelves.

So when the group allegedly backed a U-Haul through the shop’s front windows on April 25, 2020, and drove off with 13 bicycles valued at nearly $50,000, it forced Mattison into recovery mode.

Front Range bike theft
Security camera still from The Bikery, Littleton, Colo.

“We had to claim insurance basically on everything,” he said. “It’s not like when we have a bike stolen that we get to recoup our profit. We just get what we paid back. So that whole loss of profit is gone.”

Even after the shop claimed the insurance money, supply chain deficiencies made replacing the lost inventory difficult.

“So it’s not like we can just say, OK, great, now we’ve got money to go buy new bikes. Well, now there’s no new bikes,” he said.

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Indictment Details

The defendants were initially charged on Oct. 25 in Boulder District Court. Charges included violating Colorado’s Organized Crime Control Act, first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft, second-degree burglary, theft, and criminal mischief.

Clockwise from top left: Kevin Acosta-Larkin, Austin Butler, Gerald Garcia, Maurice Leday, Gregory Melina, Salvador Mena-Barreno, Jason Quijada, and Adrian Rocha-Chairez; (photo/Colorado Attorney General’s Office)

Several law enforcement entities assisted in the initial investigation, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Denver Police Department, the Littleton Police Department, and various district authorities.

“Working with our law enforcement partners, we broke up this multi-layered criminal enterprise that harmed several businesses and nonprofit organizations in the mountain communities and Denver metro and Boulder areas,” Attorney General Weiser said in a statement.

“We will hold these individuals to account for their actions and harm they caused to the victims and our communities.”

The eight individuals — shown above — await trial.

Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.