County police have broken up a bike-theft ring that used the new light rail system to travel from Baltimore to steal bicycles and transport them back to the city from the Linthicum area.
"These guys were brazen," said Sgt. Bill Rothenbecker, head of the Northern District Team Police unit. "They were stealing these bikes in the middle of the day and taking them back to the city on the light rail and selling them for heroin or money."
Most of the bikes stolen were mountain bikes, valued at between $250 and $500. The bicycles were taken from sheds, front yards and garages on streets in the area of Cleveland Road, Twin Oaks Court and Bobet Way, Sgt. Rothenbecker said.
So far, three men have been charged in the bike thefts. A 17-year-old Baltimore youth, charged as a juvenile, is being held in Boys Village, a juvenile detention home in Prince George's County. The teen-ager also faces a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia.
The teen-ager is set to appear in juvenile court today, said Detective Richard Colmus, who is investigating the thefts.
Also charged with bike theft was the teen-ager's stepbrother, Anthony Robert King, 24, of the 1200 block of Delwood Avenue in Baltimore. Both he and the teen-ager also were charged with making a false statement to police about their identities when they were spotted and questioned in the Linthicum area June 11.
A second 17-year-old Baltimore youth arrested at the light rail's North Avenue station also has been charged in the bike thefts, said Diana Rosborough, a spokeswoman for the MTA.
Police believe another man, being held in Baltimore City jail on unrelated charges, may be involved in the thefts, Detective Colmus said. An arrest warrant for a fifth man, a 21-year-old, may also be issued, Ms. Rosborough said.
About 25 bikes were stolen from the Linthicum area between May and the arrest of Mr. King and his 17-year-old relative in mid-June, police said. So far, five bikes have been recovered.
The stolen bikes were sold in the Payson Street area of Baltimore for heroin, informants told police, Sgt. Rothenbecker said.
Police became aware of the thefts after several complaints were made, said Sgt. Rothenbecker. On June 11, undercover officers on bicycles saw two men getting off the light rail in Linthicum. They followed them and called patrol officers, who stopped the pair, questioned them and photographed them for future reference.
That same night, a bicycle was reported stolen, Sgt. Rothenbecker said.
On June 15, Officer John Heiser arrested Mr. King's 17-year-old relative trying to steal a bike on Twin Oak Court, Sgt. Rothenbecker said. Since the arrests, the bike thefts have stopped, he said.