Andersonville Bike Thief Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison
ANDERSONVILLE — Eight years in prison — that's the sentence handed this week to a man who was caught on a surveillance camera stealing a bike from an Andersonville home.
A video posted to YouTube in October captured him in the 1400 block of West Summerdale Avenue breaking into a locked backyard and then a garage before taking the bike and riding off down an alley.
The suspect, 51-year-old Juan Mora, who was arrested about three weeks later, was recognized by some viewers and had been seen around the neighborhood, according to Ben Davis, the Andersonville man whose wife's bike was stolen from the Summerdale Avenue home that day.
Davis is the one who uploaded footage of the crime to the Internet after adding in funny captions and setting the video to electronic music band Freezepop's song "Bike Thief."
The star of the video turned out to be Mora, of the 1400 block of South Canal Street, who pleaded guilty to the 2013 residential burglary in Cook County Circuit Court and was sentenced by Judge Larry Axelrod to eight years in prison, according to the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.
Before he entered the plea, Mora had already been convicted of nine felonies since 1993, according to Cook County court records. Most the convictions were for residential burglaries, including cases in 2009 and 2010.
When he first made the video, Davis' main purpose wasn't to catch Mora.
It "was to make my wife feel better," he said.
"It was to make her laugh," Davis said. "It was her bike that got stolen, it was she who felt the most violated as she was at home on maternity leave at the time, only 20 feet away from this guy as he was breaking into our garage."
She thought the video was funny, but had mixed feelings about Mora's sentence. Davis did too.
"The honest truth is I'm conflicted about the sentence," Davis said. "On the face of it, an eight-year sentence is an awfully long time for stealing a bike, granted, it's really a four-year sentence when you take into account time off for good behavior."
However, Mora's nine prior convictions makes it seem more "reasonable," he said.
"This guy has been stealing and going to jail for most of his adult life," Davis said. "He does have a story, and it's a sad story. It makes the bike part of it seem somewhat insignificant."
Not only did Davis post the video that helped apprehend Mora, he confronted the man and made the call that led to his arrest.
Davis reposted the video of the bike theft on social media website Nextdoor.com — and a neighbor said he'd seen the suspect at a liquor store at Hollywood and Clark. One night, on his way home from work, Davis decided to drive by the area his neighbor had mentioned.
He said he was sitting on a street corner in his car when he saw Mora, wearing the exact same clothes he was wearing in the video captured three weeks earlier.
Davis confronted him, pulled out his cell phone and showed Mora pictures from the video — "and he admitted it," Davis said. Davis said he called the police and "they arrived very quickly," to arrest Mora.
"What I did in confronting him was not very smart with a wife and kids back home, but it all fortunately went down OK and he turned out to not be a violent guy, Davis said.
Attempts to reach Mora's family and public defender on Tuesday were unsuccessful.