Eight men were indicted by a statewide grand jury on Wednesday for allegedly committing a series of crimes including burglarizing 29 bike shops, 22 auto thefts, and multiple attempted burglaries and thefts, according to Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser in a news release.
The crime spree took place from Fraser to the Denver metropolitan and Boulder areas, with stolen items and property damage totaling approximately $1.5 million dollars.
"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. We will hold these individuals to account for their actions and harm they caused to the victims and our communities,” Attorney General Weiser said.
The crimes were apparently calculated and occurred between December 2019 and June 2020.
"After planning a burglary over Facebook Messenger, the individuals allegedly operated in groups of up to four to steal either a box truck or van and ram it into the front doors or windows of a bicycle shop, or they would break the front windows with large landscaping rocks or other tools," the release said.
They typically targeted high-end mountain bikes that were promptly transported out of the county.
In one burglary, a suspect apparently stole $90,000 worth of bikes in only five minutes, according to the release.
The men are suspected of targeting some shops repeatedly for months, including Giant Cycling World in Littleton, which was robbed four times.
“From speaking with bike store owners, I know that these break-ins and thefts have caused significant harm for the victims and our communities. This indictment is the direct result of a united, tireless effort to bring down a multi-jurisdictional theft operation," Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said.
"The District Attorney’s Office appreciates our strong partnerships with the Boulder Police Department, FBI, and the Attorney General’s Office. Our office remains committed to ensuring that the individuals involved in these property crimes are held fully responsible for their actions. I want to thank Attorney General Weiser for putting together this team effort and fighting for community safety,” he said.
Prosecutors believe that the group worked with "fences." Fences are people in a criminal organization who are tasked with reselling stolen goods. In this case, it is possible that the bikes were being transported for resale in Mexico.
The defendants were identified as:
- Kevin Acosta-Larkin
- Austin Butler
- Gerald Garcia
- Maurice Leday
- Salvador Mena-Barreno
- Gregory Melina
- Jason Quijada
- Adrian Rocha-Chairez
They are charged with various crimes, including violating Colorado’s Organized Crime Control Act, first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft, second-degree burglary, theft, and criminal mischief.
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