News Archive:

2014 (23)

2013 (49)

2012 (220)

2011 (209)

2010 (529)

2009 (446)

2007 (2)

Man tackles suspected bicycle thief being chased by cops

The San Jose Mercury News: Man tackles suspected bicycle thief being chased by cops

By Mark Gomez 

Posted: 02/08/2012 01:40:52 PM PST
Updated: 02/08/2012 10:36:44 PM PST

Carlos Babcock lost his primary mode of transportation one month ago when his Surly Long Haul Trucker bicycle was stolen off a bus at a busy downtown San Jose stop.

In an ironic twist Tuesday, Babcock exacted some revenge.

Babcock, 54, knocked a suspected bike thief off a mountain bike as he was trying to elude San Jose police officers downtown.

"He's barreling down this narrow part of the sidewalk," Babcock said. "He's coming at me full speed. He's giving it all he's got. I wrapped my arms around him. It was a pretty good collision."

Babcock, who is about 6-feet tall and 230 pounds, was walking from the Martin Luther King Jr. Library to the light rail station at Second Street near San Fernando Street when he heard police sirens. He saw a cyclist speeding toward him on a narrow sidewalk, with police officers not far behind, and decided to take action.

"There's not a lot of room for me and that guy," Babcock said. "And I'm a fairly big guy. I figured I had the advantage physically."

Minutes earlier at about 9:40 a.m., San Jose police Officers Christopher Hardin and Ray Vaughn spotted a man riding a bike against traffic on Fourth Street near San Salvador Street. When the cyclist committed a few more vehicle code infractions, the officers decided to contact him, according to police Sgt. Jason Dwyer.

When the cyclist looked back and saw the patrol car, he "had a look of surprise," Dwyer said. The cyclist stood up on and started pedaling hard, racing away from the officers. Hardin chased the cyclist on foot while Vaughn drove alongside his partner, Dwyer said.

"The distance they chased him was pretty significant," Dwyer said.

Babcock, who sits on the city's bike pedestrian advisory committee, ended the chase by wrapping his arms around the cyclist's waist and pulling him to the ground.

Once the cyclist was off the bike, Babcock remembers shouting something like, "Stay put. The cops are coming."

The collision left Babcock with a few scrapes, including tire marks along his calf.

Once police got to the suspect, identified as 20-year-old Richard Higgerson, they found a backpack that contained a Kryptonite bike lock that had been snapped with bolt cutters, Dwyer said. Police located other tools commonly used in burglaries, Dwyer said.

Higgerson was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest, grand theft, possession of burglary tools and being under the influence of a controlled substance, Dwyer said.

Higgerson allegedly stole the bike from outside a downtown Starbucks. Police located the bike's owner, who had the key to the cut lock, and returned it.

Higgerson also admitted to stealing a second bike, which he left at the same location where he stole the mountain bike, according to police.

Police said there have been a rash of bicycle thefts in the downtown area and around San Jose State.

Babcock, who doesn't have a car, didn't learn until Wednesday that he had helped arrest a suspected bike thief.

"Mr. Babcock should be commended for his actions," Dwyer said. "We ask that citizens be a good witness and not try to take physical action. At the same time, we're grateful he stepped in and helped us capture this individual."