Bike theft solved with social media crime-fighting efforts

Habitual offender faces 10 years 

Rockford Police Chief Dave Jones is happy with his officers’ efforts to use all technology available to them in catching alleged perpetrators of crime. Eighteen-year-old Nicholas Alexander French is probably not.

Jones said the theft of a $1,400 bike occurred in the early hours of October 7. A resident reported the disappearance of the bike from the garage of her home on Gibraltar Street, Rockford.

“The next day it showed up on CraigsList,” Jones reported.

A co-worker of the person with the stolen bike found it and let the police know it was there. Jones said his officers, using tech-savvy techniques, were able to trace the e-mail address from the online ad and use social media sites to identify the person who placed the ad. By the following day, the bike had already been sold to an individual in Okemos.

“It was a guy who had purchased the bike for his daughter, who was going off to college,” Jones said. “Reluctantly, but voluntarily, he returned the bicycle.”

The money paid has not yet been recovered, Jones said, making the buyer a second victim in the crime.

Jones said officers went to the home of French, who confessed to the stealing the bicycle. French, who has since been arrested and arraigned, faces five years on a felony home invasion III count. He also is charged as a habitual offender, which doubles the potential sentence to 10 years. French had previously been charged with larceny in a building and attempted malicious destruction of property over $1,000. These counts are all since he turned 17 and could be charged as an adult.

“This goes to the credit of the Rockford Police. If the officers hadn’t acted on this as quickly as they did, the bike would have been long gone,” Jones stated.

Online sites, such as CraigsList, are being carefully watched by police, including the Rockford department. “People consider them a more anonymous way of disposing of stolen property than pawn shops.” Jones said this is the third case this year where they have caught someone selling stolen property via an online venue.

Jones noted that the resident whose bike was stolen had not taken advantage of a free bike registry program that is offered through the department. Available at the department or online, residents can register their bike, and if it turns up, the department can return the bicycle to the owner.

“I’m always astounded at the number of bikes that we end up auctioning or donating to the North Kent Service Center,” Jones stated.

He said if a bike goes missing in Rockford, it often will end up at the police department. “We get about one a day,” Jones stated.

To download a registration form, visit and click “government services, police” and scroll down to the link to “Register Your Bicycle.”

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