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Sting Busts Downtown Bike Thief, But One Pedestrian Nearly Hit by LAPD Vehicle, Say Apparent Witnesses

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Photo by GarySe7en via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr

Photo by GarySe7en via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
With crime down, LAPD officers have been able to focus on different types of problems like cold cases and in the case of downtown Los Angeles, the rising crime trend of bike thievery. “It seems there is no shortage of bike thieves downtown,” explained Lt. Paul Vernon, commanding officer of the Central Detective Division, in a press release this morning.

Detectives last Friday set up a sting in which an undercover cop rode a bicycle to Ralphs on 9th Street, where a bike was reported stolen two weeks ago, and left it unlocked against a bike rack. Almost immediately, detectives identified a potential suspect who walked up and rode away in plain sight.

“Most of the people had no idea what was happening as they saw the detectives pile out of a car and give chase,” Vernon explained. 28-year-old Matthew Mark Mellish was caught one detective kicked a wheel and the suspect hit the brakes so hard he flipped over. “The best thing about this arrest,” Vernon added, “was all the onlookers high-fiving the detectives after the arrest. Being a bike thief downtown won’t win you any friends.”

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Eric Richardon at blogdowntown also reported on the incident earlier this afternoon garnering two interesting comments. "I was there and it's also important to note that while screeching their undercover cars around the corner they came inches from hitting a pedestrian who was irate that he almost died due to a stolen bike," said Kevin Tyler Zepeda-Compton.

"As downtowner with a relatively high-priced single-speed bike,I was one of the people initially praising the police officers for the sting (Though I saw no one doing hi-fives)," added an anonymous commenter. "At the same time, a young hipster kid in the crosswalk almost got hit by the sting minivan that wheeled around the corner (unloading 5 or 6 cops)."

Both commenters seemed irked by an officer who pulled a gun on the suspect.