LBPD Undercover Surveillance Operation Nabs Bike Thief


A photo taken from the LBPD Facebook page showing the contents of the suspects storage unit.

A Long Beach resident was arrested Monday by the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) in connection with a string of bike thefts that occurred over a two week period at the same bike rack on Ocean Boulevard.

Four bicycles had been stolen from the same rack located at 54th Place and Ocean Boulevard, all of which had been secured with bike locks that had been cut through, prompting the LBPD to stake out the location. Officers from the East Division conducted a surveillance operation July 7 at the location and observed a suspect dragging a bicycle away from the bike rack with a cable lock, that had clearly been cut, still attached. After detaining the suspect, identified as 47-year-old Elpidio Vargas of Long Beach, the officers discovered a pair of cable cutters in the backpack he was wearing.

The owners of the bicycle were contacted and it was confirmed that the bike had been stolen. Further investigation by the LBPD led officers to the suspects storage unit where a search warrant was written and served. After entering the unit, officers recovered two additional bicycles with a street value of approximately $1,000.

Vargas was booked and charged with grand theft and attempted petty theft.

The LBPD is reminding residents to take precautions to avoid being a victim of bike theft. Using bike locks that cannot be easily cut with cable or bolt cutters is one measure but cyclists should also save receipts and documentation of their bike’s serial number. In the event of a theft, a bike’s serial number is an easy way to prove who a stolen bicycle belongs to.

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Jason Ruiz has been covering City Hall for the Post for nearly a decade. A Long Beach resident, Ruiz graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. He and his wife Kristina and, most importantly, their dog Mango, live in Long Beach. He is a particularly avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the UCLA Bruins, which is why he sometimes comes to work after the weekend in a grumpy mood.