Suspected bike thief caught in sting in Old Town
September 8, 2009
Park City Police Department investigators have arrested a suspect in the theft of a group of high-end bicycles, catching the Old Town man in a sting arranged by the police outside the Library and Education Center.
Stuart Nachlas, 39, was booked into Summit County Jail on a preliminary second-degree felony count of theft on Sept. 3. He was released after a bondsman posted $10,000 bail.
A second-degree felony carries a potential prison sentence of between 1 and 15 years and a $10,000 fine upon conviction. Prosecutors had not screened the case for formal charges by Tuesday morning. Telephone directories do not have a listing for Nachlas.
The Police Department said he stole the bikes during the annual Cannondale show and sale at the Marriott in Prospector in July. He took six complete bicycles and one bicycle frame, the police said. They are made by Cannondale and GT.
Bob deBotelho, a Police Department detective who investigated, said the six bicycles and frame are valued at approximately $30,000 combined. Two of the bicycles are prototypes and another is a 2010 model that has not been put on sale yet.
"These aren’t Kmart specials," deBotelho said.
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According to deBotelho, Cannondale representatives had hired Nachlas to perform recycling services during the Marriott event, assigning him to take away for recycling bicycles and bike parts that were traded in.
In that role, he had access to the area where the other bicycles were kept, the detective said.
"When he saw an opportunity, he’d grab a bike and put it in his van," deBotelho said.
Nachlas soon put the bicycles up for sale on the KSL television Web site, asking between $2,000 and $2,600 each, he said, and somebody purchased one of them for approximately $2,400. The bicycle was still in the box when it was handed over to the buyer, deBotelho said, and the person took it to a Cannondale dealer in Davis County to have it assembled.
A person at the Davis County dealer realized that the bicycle was a model that had not been released to the public yet and contacted a Cannondale representative in Utah, who later called the police.
DeBotelho said he and Ed Clouse, a police officer, set up the undercover operation. They arranged to purchase one of the prototype bikes from Nachlas at 8 a.m. on Sept. 3 outside the Library and Education Center. Officers in unmarked cars watched him walk the bicycle from his home on Norfolk Avenue to the library.
With Clouse posing as the buyer, the others closed in and arrested Nachlas without incident, deBotelho said. The police found the other bicycles in the living room of the house where Nachlas lives, he said.
Expensive mountain bikes are occasionally stolen in Park City, but the dollar figure in the Nachlas case is especially noteworthy. Other high-profile cases include a 2008 report of a theft of a $6,000 bicycle manufactured by Trek from a vendor during a mountain-biking conference and episodes in 2007 that involved two bicycles valued at $7,000 combined being taken from car-roof racks.
The police say the thieves usually try to sell the bicycles instead of using them themselves.