WICKER PARK — An athlete's $5,000 bike was recovered Tuesday on the same block from which it was stolen on Sunday — thanks to a police officer who orchestrated a sting to buy the Felt AR5 with zip wheels from the thieves, who had put it up for sale online.
The athlete, a 26-year-old Wicker Park woman who asked not to be named, had competed in the Ironman 70.3-mile Steelhead race last weekend in Michigan.
On Sunday night, she returned to Wicker Park and parked her car — containing her $2,500 bike, as well as special racing wheels she'd rented for $1,200 per wheel to enhance the bike — in the 1300 block of North Leavitt Street.
A thief broke into the car and stole the bike as well as a laptop, clothing and other items. The woman posted about the incident on Facebook early Monday, along with photos of her bike.
Officer David Alcazar, a former beat officer with the Shakespeare Police District who recently transferred to a communications job within the Chicago Police Department, is a triathlete and heard about the stolen bike through his social network.
Alcazar worked with his former co-workers on a five-member Shakespeare District Beat 1461 tactical team to arrange to buy back the bike from the thieves, who posted it for sale via an app called OfferUp.
"I did the setup of the buy and the sting, and I was the one making the transaction with the offenders," said Alcazar, who showed up at the offenders' home around noon Tuesday to buy the bike, for an agreed-upon $600.
When asked about their reaction to being caught, Alcazar replied, "They said I was a good actor."
Payton Lamar, 25, of the 4100 block of West Potomac Avenue, Gwenel McKeebey, 20 of the 1300 block of North Leavitt Street, Brandon Carroll, 19, of the 5700 block of South Ada St. and a 17-year-old juvenile were arrested and each charged with one misdemeanor count of theft, according to Officer Thomas Sweeney, a Police Department spokesman.
McKeebey had been on electrical monitoring/home confinement at the time of the recent incident, according to a police source.
One of the three men had been wearing the victim's jogging pants at the time of the arrest, Alcazar said. The victim went with Alcazar and members of the tactical team to confirm that the bike belonged to her, through a serial number.
The four arrestees were found in possession of the same bike that was reported stolen from the athlete's car around 9 p.m. Sunday, parked in the 1300 block of North Leavitt Street , Sweeney said.
"I was glad to be a part of recovering a bicycle, which is rare. I do triathlons myself, and know how costly those bikes are. She was overtaken by emotions afterward. It was a good day, and I was happy to do our job, to serve," Alcazar said.
The athlete posted an update on Facebook after her bike was recovered.
"I am beyond happy with the current outcomes and plan to see this justice through. I cannot express enough how much the support of this community has meant to me through this time, it is because of you all that we were so quickly able to find my possessions and put a stop to this further happening by these individuals. Lessons learned, and the biggest of all that there really is no stronger bond than the one through our athlete community. Thank you," the victim wrote.