SANTA MONICA—On Saturday, January 22, undercover officers from the Los Angeles Police Department arrested two bike thieves after one of the men was fooled into meeting officers to sell stolen merchandise.
According to the LAPD, officers knew a rash of high-end bike burglaries had been taking place, when they discovered an individual placing an ad for a bike on Craigslist, on the very same day in which it was reported missing. A 51-year-old immigrant from the Ukraine, Konstantin Rostovtsev, showed up at an agreed upon Santa Monica meeting place, assuming that he would be selling the stolen bike for half price. (The stolen bike had a price tag of around $600, and was being illegally sold for about half of that, $300, by the accused thief.) Instead, Rostovtsev, a Santa Monica resident, was arrested and soon led police to his even more accomplished accomplice, 43-year-old Edward Rene Arciga.
Lt. Vernon explained that officers next contacted Arciga, who had the officers (unknown to him) meet him at a Sunset Boulevard hotel. Once it became clear that Arciga, like Rostovtsev, was trying to sell stolen property, the officers arrested both Arciga and an unnamed associated who was with him at the hotel at the time of his arrest. Since a counterfeiting operation was involved, the Secret Service was also a part of the bust. Vernon explained that when the undercover detectives “called the man out… [they] could immediately see bolt cutters and more bikes.”
Lt. Paul Vernon of the LAPD ultimately called the sting a resounding success, as not only were the bike theft ringleaders arrested, but the thieves were also discovered to be counterfeiters and using the illegal drug heroin.Arciga’s arrest, for both theft and the serious crime of counterfeiting, was seen by Vernon as “a gold mine.”
Though officers are proud of the sting operation’s success, they do still believe that organized thieves continue to prey on bike owners around Los Angeles. Lt. Vernon urged active bike users to “protect themselves with good locks, record their bike’s serial number, and keep a receipt of the bike’s purchase price to prove its value.” Vernon also suggested that bikers remember not to leave their bikes in “a public place, even locked up, for longer than is necessary.”
Anyone with any information on similar crimes, or other general acts of theft, can contact the LAPD through a variety of means. These means include calling the LAPD Crimestoppers line at 800-222-TIPS or texting the numerical equivalent of “C-R-I-M-E-S” so long as the message starts with the letters “LAPD.”