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People tracking a stolen bike help bring down alleged Capitol Hill theft operation

Police haul allegedly stolen goods from the 12th/Mercer operation. Photo by jseattle for CHS

A bike theft victim, a responsible soul in Baltimore and a person with iPad tracking software all helped police bust an alleged stolen goods online sales operation at 12th and Mercer on Capitol Hill.

The operation was busted last week when a stolen iPad was tracked to the building. But Capitol Hill Seattle reports that attention was brought to the location months ago after someone tracked her stolen bike to them after it was sold on eBay. From CHS:

CHS user niemcziek figured it all out months ago.

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“The bottom line is we have solid proof these people are selling stolen goods on eBay,” niemcziek wrote to CHS in mid-September about an eBay account the reader traced to a 12th Ave address.

“Yesterday I was contacted by a good samaritan in Baltimore, claiming to have purchased my bike on eBay,” niemcziek told CHS in a September email.

The buyer, suspicious of the Capitol Hill, Seattle-based seller’s evasive behavior via email started looking for answers after he purchased the stripped frame. He found out about the New Year’s Eve day 2012 burglary of two high-end cycles worth north of $10,000 and contacted niemcziek. The serial number was a match.

Niemcziek began tracking the eBay account and found a busy merchant at work.

“We looked further into the endless list of high end bikes, computers, and other items for sale by this Seattle couple and have already identified at least one more bike and one laptop belonging to friends whose home was burglarized 3 weeks ago,” niemcziek told us in September.

Niemcziek’s friends purchased their bike via eBay and went  to the 12th Ave home to pick it up. There, niemcziek tells CHS, the seller told her friends the bike had been purchased via Craigslist. You can call the cops if you want to, the seller assured.

Niemcziek tells CHS she provided the results of her investigation to police. The SPD report on this week’s arrest notes that burglary detectives were “familiar” with the home: “Detectives from the East Precinct responded to the scene and immediately recognized the suspect and location as being involved in the trafficking of stolen property.”

Lessons here:

  1. eBay is still a thing, and you should probably check it in addition to Craigslist when looking for a stolen ride.
  2. The more information you can sleuth about your stolen bike and the alleged thief, the better chance you have of getting police action.
  3. Write down your bike’s serial number (here’s a great guide on how to find it).
  4. People from Baltimore are great.
  5. Glue an iPad to your bike.

Charges have yet to be filed in the case.

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