Makeshift Bicycle "Chop Shop" Found in Wooded Area - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/08/05

Makeshift Bicycle "Chop Shop" Found in Wooded Area

Two homeless men have been arrested for a rash of thefts in downtown Savannah. They've been taking bikes, and other items, and stashing them at a makeshift "chop shop" in the woods.

Police aren't even sure how many bikes, because many of them were taken apart.

It all started with one suspicious guy on a bike and a hole in the fence near a wooded area along the I-16 corridor off Gwinnett Street.

"We've told people before they can't be back here," said Officer George Gundich.

Downtown special operations officers followed the man, who sneaked through the hole into the woods. When police went in, they found more than just a homeless camp. There were bikes, bike parts, cell phones and some more bikes.

Officer Gundich says there was a reason they had been keeping an eye on the man in question. "He had two different bikes in two days and he didn't seem to own either of them at the time."

The man on the bike, 39-year-old William Smith, admitted he stole it. He was charged with criminal trespass. Police also arrested 24 year-old Richard Covey who was also living in the camp.

Both were charged with theft by receiving stolen property. Covey also faces possession of tools for commission of a crime and theft by taking.

Gundich says the crimes may not sound so serious, but complaints were growing. "One may be considered petty, but when they happen over and over again, then obviously you've found a problem area."

Police say the property owners will now have to fix the fence, clean up the area and put up no trespassing signs.

As for the thefts, they say these were crimes of opportunity.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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