Authorities on Wednesday sought victims of a ring of thieves who stole nearly 200 expensive mountain bicycles with an estimated total value of $250,000.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said authorities have arrested three men allegedly involved in the thefts: Julian Herrera, 23, and his brother Jamie Herrera, 21, both of Los Angeles; and Alberto Mejia, 34, of Colton.
A news conference was planned this morning, when officials will display 20 recovered bicycles and 40 recovered wheels and ask victims to come forward and retrieve their property.
The thieves allegedly used social media, including Craigslist, to target victims in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, Nishida said. Detectives recovered more than $100,000 in stolen property.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the victims include bike club members, long-distance road racers and triathletes. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Major Crimes Bureau detectives reported finding stolen bikes and bike parts at various locations including one of the suspect's homes, The Times reported.
In 2011, Los Angeles police had made arrests after a series of high-end bike thefts in Brentwood, Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica, and the suspects included Mejia and Julian Herrera, who worked in his family's gardening business at some of the homes that were hit, The Times reported.
Both men were arrested and eventually convicted, along with Julian's uncle Marvin Herrera. When they were released after a few weeks in jail, the high-end bike thefts resumed over a wider territory with help from the Internet, detectives said.
Authorities say the suspects began scouring Craigslist and bike websites looking for expensive bicycles for sale. They allegedly chatted with the owners, using fake names like Joe Wayne, Justin Vyor and Mark Silverstein. They even persuaded some sellers to email additional photos. If they got names of the sellers, they logged into Facebook in search of more information. They also used Facebook to find fellow riders who could become future targets, according to detectives quoted by The Times.