Caught by the Yolo County sheriff himself, the suspect in a Jan. 7 campus bike theft is due for arraignment next week in Yolo Superior Court.
Dateline UC Davis reported incorrectly Jan. 26 that campus police had arrested David Goelz, 38, of West Sacramento, the day of the alleged theft. In fact, police only detained him that morning while a witness identified him as the man who was seen cutting the lock off a bicycle at Cuarto Residence Halls, officers said. But they could not determine who owned the bike, so officers let Goelz go.
Subsequently, police tracked down the owner, who filed a stolen-bike report, and investigators forwarded the case to the district attorney’s office. Today (Jan. 29), according to the chief deputy district attorney, the office filed a charge of petty theft against Goelz. His court date is Tuesday (Feb. 2).
Dateline’s original story told how Sheriff Ed Prieto happened to be in the right place at the right time to nab the suspect. Prieto was driving west on Russell Boulevard toward Highway 113 when a man on a bicycle rode across the street and down the onramp to the highway, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman said.
“The bike continued on and there was a truck waiting on the highway,” Sgt. Matt Davis said. “The person on the bike threw the bike into the truck and hopped into the passenger side.”
Prieto, who has served as sheriff since 1998, thought there was something fishy going on, so he made a traffic stop, where one of his deputies soon joined him. They heard a radio report about the bike theft at Cuarto, so they contacted campus police, who arrived to take over the investigation.
Investigators said they not only have the witness who identified Goelz, but surveillance video of the theft.
The video shows five students walking by, most of them looking directly at the suspect as he struggles to work the three-foot-long bolt-cutter. The suspect conceals the tool and hides from the first passer-by, but then openly continues trying to cut the lock as the others walk by.
At one point the suspect slips and falls on top of adjacent bikes. Only the fifth witness reported the theft; that student told residence hall staff, who called campus police, Sgt. Bill Beermann said. By the time police arrived, the suspect had left the area, but he didn’t make it far — after crossing in front of the sheriff.
Beermann shared the surveillance video last week with the campus Committee on Bicycle Programs. He said it shows the need for everyone on campus to be vigilant and report suspicious activity immediately.
Crimes in progress or other emergencies can be reported to the campus Police Department by calling 911 or 530-752-1230, or by using the Aggie Guardian app to call campus police. Other incidents can be reported to the department online or by calling 530-754-COPS (2677).