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TV Station Uncovers Stolen Bikes In Sting Operation

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A local TV station helped to uncover a trove of stolen bikes by putting out an expensive bicycle rigged with GPS as bait.

NBC Los Angeles borrowed a $500 bike from a local Burbank bike shop (that has had bicycle theft problems of its own). The TV station put a GPS device disguised as a reflector on the bike, parked it at the North Hollywood Red Line Station—where bike thefts are a big problem—and waited. A hidden camera captured a bike thief scoping out the bike, sawing through the cable lock and then riding away.

The GPS led them to a house in Sun Valley, and they called the cops. (Well, not before taking an aerial video of the home from a helicopter—NBC really pulled out the stops on this one.) Sure enough, cops found a truckload of bicycles and a suspect named Juan Luis Torales, who police said admitted to buying and selling stolen stolen goods. He plead not guilty to one count of receiving stolen property. But the man who actually took off with the bicycle in the video is still nowhere to be found.

The news station reports that as biking has become more popular, so has bicycle theft. In areas like Santa Monica and North Hollywood, bike thefts have doubled in the last four years.

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Police have been able to bust some of these bicycle-stealing rings in downtown, Santa Monica and through Craiglist. In San Francisco where bike theft is also a problem, police have created a Twitter account to fight bike theft, and they've also conducted their own stings.

NBC has some tips for bikers so that they can avoid becoming a theft victim—or at least stand a better chance of getting their bikes back if they do become victims: Get a heavy-duty lock instead of a cable lock, and maybe investing in a couple locks so you don't lose your tires or bike seat. Take pictures of your bike and its receipt number so that you stand a better chance of getting it back, if some thief does make off with it.

Here's the video: