Four down, 32 to go.
Workers at Brooklyn Bike and Board recovered two of the 18 bikes snatched from their Prospect Heights store — a paired set given to two avid cyclists as a wedding present, no less — during a sting operation straight out of a police drama.
Yet it doesn’t appear that the man arrested on June 11 for peddling the stolen two wheelers was part of the theft on June 4, when thousands of dollars in bikes and equipment were taken from the store’s basement.
Shop owner Brian Gluck said a customer contacted him last week, explaining that two bikes taken from the store had popped up on Craigslist.
“We owe that guy a beer,” Gluck said. “Sure enough, there they were on sale for $700. And the dude selling them was kind enough to leave his cellphone number and name in the ad.”
Gluck immediately texted the seller, explaining he was interested in purchasing the bikes. He then alerted detectives from the 77th Precinct.
Cops immediately began working up a game plan, but needed Gluck’s help.
“They decided to set up a meeting [with the seller], but that’s where it got kooky,” he said. “There was some other goings on in the area, so they could only get two detectives, two arresting officers, one plain clothes officer and, well, me.”
Gluck got a field promotion from bike shop owner to undercover NYPD operative in the time it took them to drive from Prospect Heights to Thatford Street in Brownsville, where the stolen bicycle buy was going to go down.
“The plan was to have me knock on the door, stick my foot in when it opened, and have the officers rush in but it didn’t really work out like that,” he said.
In fact, the floss-thin “plan” was riddled with holes.
For one thing, Gluck was wearing a Brooklyn Bike and Board shirt at the meet up. His undercover “friend,” a precinct detective, was dressed in hip-hop street clothes, not your typical bike enthusiast garb.
Crockett and Tubbs they were not.
If that wasn’t bad enough, no one was home when they showed up, even though one of the stolen bikes was sitting on the front porch.
A few minutes later, the suspect approached them on the second stolen bike, never finding anything suspicious about his two buyers.
“He had no idea,” Gluck said. “How could anyone be that stupid?”
The plan is almost thrown out the window as the deal starts going down outside the home. It looked like no one was going to get inside to check for more stolen swag.
That’s when Gluck had a revelation.
“I ask if he has any lights for the bike,” Gluck said. “He opens the door telling us he’ll be right back. My foot goes in the door and the cops fly in. Waa Bam!”
Police said the suspect was taken into custody without incident, charged with felony criminal possession of stolen property because the bikes and accessories recovered were more than $1,000.
Yet the seller gave up nothing about where he got the hot wheels, claiming he had purchased them from someone else.
But, to Gluck, even a small victory is better than nothing at all.
“It wasn’t a bad way to break my police sting cherry,” he said.
©2010 Community News Group
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