Santa Rosa Junior College student Nica Poznanovich was heartbroken when she came out of class last Wednesday and found her prized racing bike gone.
?It was like my dream bike,? said Poznanovich, 25. ?I?d saved up a really long time for it. I thought it was gone forever.?
But she was back in the saddle Tuesday after Santa Rosa police broke up an alleged theft ring that was advertising stolen bikes on Craigslist.
Her $2,000 Bianchi bicycle was part of a cache of bikes recovered Tuesday when police arrested two Santa Rosa men and searched a home and storage unit.
?That?s refreshing to hear,? said Mitch Giem, manager of Sonoma Bicycle Co. in downtown Santa Rosa. ?Score one for the good guys.?
Most victims of bicycle theft never see their bikes again, according to the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition. Expensive bikes are a special target for thieves, said Christine Culver, executive director of the coalition.
?Those turn over really well on eBay or Craigslist,? she said.
The Internet makes it easy to sell stolen bikes quickly and at high prices, according to law enforcement.
Santa Rosa and SRJC police investigating a recent rash of bike thefts learned that someone was selling the stolen property on Craigslist, according to Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Lisa Banayat.
The bikes were taken from the SRJC and downtown areas. Undercover detectives made arrangements to buy one of the advertised bikes and met Tuesday with two men, who also brought a second stolen bike, Banayat said.
Police arrested Mark Allen Jensen, 20, and Donald Andrew Bean, 18, both of Santa Rosa, on felony charges of possessing stolen property. They were booked into Sonoma County Jail.
Detectives then searched a home on Earle Street and a storage unit on Santa Rosa Avenue, finding more bikes and bike parts related to 14 different theft cases.
The bikes included high-end mountain bikes and road bikes, police said.
Theft victims who can identify their bikes may contact Santa Rosa Police Detective Brett Siwy at 543-3575 to find out if their property has been recovered.
Police are seeking more information about the thefts and ask anyone with information to contact the property crimes bureau at the same number.
Poznanovich said she?d locked her bike at a rack just outside her classroom at SRJC. The thieves struck less than an hour after she left it, she said.
?They knew what they were doing,? Poznanovich said. ?They recognized that my bike was valuable.?
The alleged thieves were trying to sell her bike for $700 on Craigslist, she said.
Owners should lock their bikes in a place where they?re highly visible, said Giem.
?If you have a cable lock and U-lock, use them both,? he said. ?Most thieves are set up to break one or the other, but not both.?
Owners should also keep a record of their bike?s serial number, so it can be identified later, he said.
More tips for protecting your bike are available on the Bicycle Coalition?s Web site, bikesonoma.org.
You can reach Staff Writer Steve Hart at 521-5205 or firstname.lastname@example.org.