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Victims Deflate Alleged Serial Bike Thief

Patch talks to an undaunted pursuer of Kenneth Robertson as an arraignment hearing is set.

Kenneth Robertson is scheduled for arraignment before a Cook County judge Friday afternoon over  across the Chicago area.

While Winnetka and Wilmette detectives conducted a monthlong investigation of the 31-year-old and his , theft victims have been trying for a year to get Robertson charged. 

Patch spoke with one man who has been spearheading a group of Chicago volunteers attempting to catch the alleged thief in the act. For them, Robertson's arrest is a big victory.

"Two of the 25 recovered bikes did appear on our stolen registry," Kevin said of The Chain Link and the Stolen Bicycle Registry. "I'm surprised you found him with as many as 25 bicycles. This guy's a professional and usually gets rid of bikes in a week or two."

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"There's less than five cordless grinder thieves, and we think Kenny's one of the most active ones," said Kevin, who did not want his last name included for safety reasons.

In addition to his distinctive lock-breaking technique, Robertson frequents CTA and Metra parking stations, according to Kevin.

He said his group became aware of Robertson when it investigated a Chicago swap meet that was notorious for selling stolen bikes. Since then, the group has accumulated Youtube videos from security cameras installed to catch Robertson.

"I know when it's a bike that Kenny's stolen," Kevin said of Robertson's theft patterns. "The police reports from Kenilworth, Wilmette and Winnetka were consistent with what we've been finding in Chicago."

Local authorities were tipped off to the alleged thieves after Winnetka police recorded Robertson and Torres' license plate as suspicious persons earlier in June.

Wilmette patrolman Landon Girard spotted their car in the Wilmette Metra parking lot June 24. Detectives then followed and observed the duo as they allegedly stole bikes from a commuter lot in Glencoe and from the 500 block of Green Bay Road in Winnetka. They were arrested in Chicago later that day.

As Robertson faces a judge in Skokie, Kevin praises the police work done by North Shore authorities.

"They have a strong set of evidence against him," he said. "It's a prosecutor's dream, they have police from two municipalities as witnesses."

Meanwhile, Kevin said to prevent becoming a victim, bicyclists have to do their part.

"People need to take reasonable precaution to protect their property and to decrease bike thefts," he noted.

Robertson, along with Torres, is set to appear at the Skokie Courthouse at 1:30 p.m. Friday. Stay tuned to Patch for more on the bike theft case.

Willie Wilmette July 22, 2011 at 02:08 PM
How do we keep our bikes safe from professional thieves? Is my u-shaped lock good enough?
Andrea Hart July 22, 2011 at 03:53 PM
I spoke with Kevin about this. He suggested using two u-locks to discourage thieves. Additionally, be sure to write down your bike's serial number and take a photo of your bike in case, unfortunately, it does get stolen.
TomH July 22, 2011 at 11:08 PM
Good suggestions, Andrea. Additionally, place your business card or a small slip of paper with your name and telephone number in a small plastic bag, then hide that inside your seatpost and/or handlebars. It will prove ownership, even if the thieves grind off the serial number, and the bike gets recovered. Register your bike with your local police. In some towns, like Evanston, this is mandatory and only costs fifty cents. Two U-Locks used correctly is a good start: one through the back wheel, frame and around a sturdy parking meter or bike rack. The second U-Lock through the front wheel, frame and around the bike rack or meter if possible. Small cable through the seat and rack will hold down your accessories; always take your lights with you. Some folks suggest using one U-Lock and a heavy chain, on the theory that the thief would need two different tools to break them, and may pass up your bike. Cables, except for holding down your seat and rack, are pretty much useless; they can be clipped in seconds. Don't lock your bike to wooden railings, chainlink fences, small trees or signposts that are attached to the concrete with only one or two bolts; the thief will defeat those quickly and get away with your bike, lock still attached.

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