Police order hundreds of cyclists to leave after thefts during mass bike ride

A large group of bicyclists grabbed $300 to $400 of merchandise from a Signal Hill grocery store before being shooed away by police officers Sunday afternoon, according to authorities.

Signal Hill police said the group of about 200 to 300 bicyclists was riding through the city, sometimes blocking streets, when Signal Hill police got a call around 1:50 p.m. The caller reported the group was causing traffic problems near Willow Street and Cherry Avenue, according to a statement from the SHPD.

A few minutes later, an employee at the nearby Food 4 Less called police to say a large group of bicyclists had come into the store and started stealing alcohol and other items, the SHPD said.

“On behalf of the business, the employee asked for the officers to tell the subjects to leave their property,” the department said in a statement.

Officers used their cars’ PA systems to tell the group to leave and obey traffic laws, but officers didn’t try to detain anyone because Food 4 Less employees didn’t want to press charges, SHPD Lt. Kelli Crigler said.

“It’s their business. It’s their private property, and we were asked to tell them to leave their property. And there is no crime report that they sought,” Crigler said.

Crigler said she was aware of the many videos posted on social media Sunday showing hundreds of young cyclists doing wheelies and other tricks as they pedaled through Long Beach and Signal Hill as part of an organized ride. Residents concerned about the thefts at Food 4 Less also started sharing photos and videos from the ride in Facebook groups and on Nextdoor where they speculated about what happened and who was involved.

Crigler said she doesn’t know definitively whether the riders in that group were involved in the thefts. The lieutenant said she doesn’t know of a similar situation ever happening before in Signal Hill, but “we’re now aware of this,” and police are working with the Food 4 Less loss prevention team about what to do in the future.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is managing editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram.
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