SALEM — Police in Salem and Beverly have been dealing with a rash of thefts of bicycle racks — racks with no bikes on them.
Fortunately for one victim, who had an expensive, Swedish-built Thule rack system stolen from his vehicle, keys to the rack's locks proved to be the key to solving the theft.
Police reports show three rack thefts in Salem between Saturday and Tuesday and two in Beverly on Tuesday. The racks and accessories can cost upward of $1,000.
On Wednesday afternoon, Salem police detectives investigating the incidents arrested Luis D. Suarez, 21, of 22 Prince St., Salem, and charged him with receiving stolen property worth more than $250.
Police found the rack matching one of the victim's descriptions perched on the roof of a gray, 1995 Honda Civic belonging to Suarez's girlfriend, Abigail Gonzalez, police said. Suarez was known to police to drive her car.
Detectives identified the rack as stolen by matching the serial number of the keys to the rack and a description of rust on the side and an oval sticker on the front.
Yesterday, Suarez was arraigned before Judge Joseph Jennings in Salem District Court, where he pleaded not guilty. He has a pretrial conference on Sept. 14. His girlfriend will be summonsed by mail on the same charge, and both are scheduled to appear on the same day, Salem police prosecutor Lt. Conrad Prosniewski said.
"It seems to be the new trend all of a sudden," Prosniewski said of the bike rack thefts. "We don't know if it's one person or many persons."
But like thefts of GPS devices or cellphones, "there has to be some sort of conduit for the thief to sell it off pretty quickly."
Thule racks can cost hundreds of dollars; prices vary according to the rack model and the kind of car it is attached to.