Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Twin Falls man charged in bike thefts

Investigation continues into alleged theft ring


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Dean Earl Smith

A Twin Falls man has been charged with four crimes in Twin Falls County in connection with a rash of "high-end" bicycle thefts last year in the Ketchum area.

Twin Falls County Prosecuting Attorney Grant Loebs said Tuesday that 32-year-old Dean Earl Smith has been charged with two felony counts of grand theft and two misdemeanor counts of petit theft. All four of the charges allege that Smith was in possession of stolen bikes or bicycle parts, but do not allege that he actually stole the items.

"What we've got is him in possession of the things," Loebs said.

Smith was formally charged with the crimes Friday in Twin Falls County Magistrate Court. He remained incarcerated Tuesday in the Twin Falls County jail on $10,000 bond.

Smith was arrested last week by the Twin Falls Police Department in the course of a joint investigation by Twin Falls and Ketchum police. The joint investigation was initiated in November after bikes or bicycle parts stolen from Ketchum residents turned up at pawn shops in Twin Falls.

Ketchum Police Chief Steve Harkins said Tuesday that investigators believe Smith was involved in an organized theft ring. He said the investigation is still being actively pursued and that other arrests and charges are expected.

"The suspects lived in the Twin Falls area and were driving to Blaine County to commit the thefts," Harkins said. "We believe they were transporting the bikes back to Twin Falls and selling many of them for pennies on the dollar to a few of the Twin Falls pawn shops."

Harkins said 10 bicycles have now been recovered from 45 reported stolen in 2010. All 45 of the stolen bicycles were expensive racing machines, valued between $2,000 and $5,000 apiece.

"I don't know if [the members of the alleged theft ring] were solely responsible for every one of them, but we believe they were involved in the majority of them," Harkins said. "As soon as we started investigating them, the thefts stopped."

Harkins said Smith previously lived in the Wood River Valley and has prior theft convictions.

According to Twin Falls County court records, Smith was convicted there of petit theft in 2008 and 2010.

Blaine County court records state that Smith has misdemeanor convictions here dating back to 1996. They include several convictions for possession of drug paraphernalia, contempt of court, disturbing the peace and malicious injury to property.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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