When Rachel Nelson heard a noise in her driveway late one night last month, she knew immediately what was happening. Word had been circulating throughout the bicycling community about a string of bike thefts, and she and her partner Jacques Hadler were already on edge.
“I looked out the window and saw three people in our driveway,” Nelson said. “I could tell they were trying to steal our bikes.”
Nelson said she quietly woke Hadler to tell him.
“I thought we would make a plan,” she said. “But he just jumped up and ran right out there.”
Hadler, who manages Moab Cyclery, parked a van loaded with three mountain bikes under their bedroom window a few hours before on the night of Tuesday, Sept. 29. The bicycles, valued at $5,000 each, were to be delivered to clients at 7 a.m. the next morning for Moab’s annual Outerbike event.
“I didn’t even think,” Hadler said. “I just ran outside in my bare feet and pajama bottoms.”
Hadler said he surprised the three would-be thieves, who scrambled to get away on bicycles they brought with them. While two escaped, Hadler chased the third man for half a block on foot before knocking him from his bike and tackling him.
Hadler, who weighs 140 pounds, held the man down until police arrived.
“I’m small, but I’m fit,” he said. “The guy had 40 pounds on me.”
Police arrested 23-year-old Cody Dean Arthur of Moab, and booked him on a third-degree felony charge of theft by receiving stolen property, as well as class B misdemeanor charges of possession of an instrument for burglary or theft and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Arthur was allegedly riding a stolen bike belonging to Bill Sullivan. The bike was allegedly stolen from Sullivan’s camper while it was parked in a Mulberry Grove garage. Sullivan had taken out ads and posted fliers with pictures of the bike around town. Hadler recognized the bike and notified Sullivan.
Sullivan said that police called him in to identify the bike. He said that several parts had been switched out, and other attempts were made to disguise the bike; police said they would need to keep it for two months as evidence.
“I’ll never get the original bike back, but at least a thief was caught,” he said.
Sullivan said he wanted to thank local residents and the Moab Police Department for helping him recover his bike.
“The police understand there is a significant problem – the value of these bikes is quite high,” he said.
Over a dozen high-end mountain and road bikes, valued at between $5,000 and $10,000 each, have been stolen over the past several weeks.
Three bikes have been stolen from the Mulberry Grove subdivision. Several more have been taken from the Westwood / Palisade neighborhood, and from homes along 500 West.
Scott Wacker and his roommate both had their bikes stolen some time between Sunday, Sept. 27, and Monday, Sept. 28, from their home on 500 West. In a strange twist, Nelson discovered Wacker’s carbon fiber frame with rear wheel attached, floating in the river below the Portal on Oct. 1 – two days after the attempted burglary at the home she shares with Hadler.
Wacker said he was on the phone talking to the police, who were telling him not to expect the return of his bike, when there was a knock at the door.
“And there was Jacques (Hadler) standing there with my bike in his hand,” he said.
Nelson said she believes that the men who got away from her house are part of a local ring, and that after the close call, they dumped everything in the river. She said there are rumors on the street about who the men are, and that a west-side house has been observed with new bikes being stripped on the front porch.
“Everyone seems to know who the other two guys are, but they can’t get them on anything,” she said. “But it’s too small of a town to keep getting away with something like that.”
“People know what’s going on,” he said. “They are definitely kids from here. Gang members. You see them on Facebook.”
Wacker, who has lived in Moab for 20 years, said that it has been a shock for him and others who have had their bikes stolen.
“People here are passionate about their bikes,” he said. “They feel so violated. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, someone stole something from me.’”
Nelson said that the people who are being stolen from aren’t wealthy, and that many of them work as guides or in bike shops, and that for them, having a really nice bike is simply their priority.
“It’s really messed up when you take that person’s only possession,” she said.
Chile Pepper Bike Shop owner Tracy Reed agreed, and said that “these people work hard for those bikes.”
She said visitors ask her all the time if their bikes will be safe in town.
After years of feeling safe, she now tells people not to leave their bikes unattended, and that an aspect of small-town living is being taken away from bike owners.
“We all moved here for a reason,” she said. “Now everything has to be on lockdown.”
Local man tackles and restrains one alleged thief
People here are passionate about their bikes … They feel so violated. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, someone stole something from me.’