Two Suspects Arrested in Connection to Winter Break Bike Thefts

In response to the wave of bicycle thefts at the Claremont Colleges over winter break, the Claremont Police Department arrested two male suspects on Jan. 13. The case is currently under investigation.

Claremont University Consortium Campus Safety officers Arman Abedini and Robert Loya played an integral part in the apprehension and arrest of the suspects. On Jan. 13, Abedini noticed one of the suspects repeatedly jumping out of a gold pickup truck, running onto the Claremont McKenna Campus near the northeast part of Wohlford Hall, and climbing back into the truck.

The truck sped away before Abedini could confront the suspects. However, he later caught up with them at Harvey Mudd College near Platt Boulevard. This time he was able to confront the suspects, who said they were CMC students, but claimed they had lost their identification cards.

When asked to leave, the suspects abided, but were later seen again on the HMC campus attempting to throw a bicycle over a fence and into the same pickup truck. When Campus Safety once again tried to confront the suspects, the truck sped away a second time.

Campus Safety then called the Claremont Police Department. Officers were able to track down the suspects on College Avenue near Tenth Street. The suspects were arrested for attempting to steal bicycles.

Campus Safety refused to disclose its full report of the incident pending investigation. The Claremont Police Department also declined to offer any information on the case while it remains open.

According to Interim Director of the Department of Campus Safety Chan Mean, Campus Safety cannot verify that the bicycles all belong to members of the Claremont College community.

Only three bicycles were reported to have gone missing over winter break—one from HMC and two from CMC—and only the one from HMC has been recovered and returned to its owner. However, Campus Safety and the Claremont Police Department have jointly recovered 30 bikes in connection to this incident and are still searching for their rightful owners.

According to John Beckman, Claremont University Consortium Chief Administrative Officer, Campus Safety officers provide extra patrols of the entrances to residence halls, academic buildings, parking lots, and bicycle racks during breaks and when activity on campus is at a minimum.

“Campus Safety officers are trained to be vigilant and, when they are on patrol, their number one goal is to prevent any malicious acts that are intended towards any of the Colleges,” Mean said. “To be honest, theft can occur any place and at any time. Although we don’t want it to happen, we train our officers so they can prepare for any situation, should it arise.”

Chris Sundberg, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Activities at Harvey Mudd, said HMC is looking for other ways to discourage bicycle thefts. Sundberg said prior to this group of thefts, HMC had already begun clearing away old and abandoned bikes from bike racks, since these were prime targets for thieves. Sundberg also advised students to lock their bikes in their rooms over breaks.

HMC, along with the other campuses and campus safety, is also encouraging students to purchase U-locks, which are more secure than other locks that can easily be cut off. Pomona Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum said the Associated Students of Pomona College is even considering creating a program to fund U-locks for students, and the administration is attempting to put up more bike racks inside dormitory courtyards, which only students with a valid identification card can access.

However, Guy Gerbick, Associate Dean of Students at Harvey Mudd College, said bike thefts have been a consistent problem at the Colleges, and he was not surprised about the attempted thefts over winter break. However, he added that he was impressed by Campus Safety’s response in this instance.

“I think it’s a pretty organized thing,” he said. “Bike thefts have been happening for years and years but, in this case, I really think it was a great job by a particular campus safety officer seeing something suspicious and following it through.”

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