Students help RUPD catch serial bike thief
Rice University Police Sergeants Gary Spears and Clemente Rodriguez apprehended William Baisden Wednesday for breaking a trespass warning for Rice campus and on suspicion of stealing four bicycles in the past two to three days, according to Spears.
RUPD was alerted to Baisden's presence on campus by a Brown College student and a Jones College student who had seen Baisden acting suspiciously on Monday and then saw him on campus again Wednesday afternoon.
The students, who asked to remain anonymous, said they originally saw Baisden riding a black and blue bike with a luggage rack on Monday night by Brown College.
"I was a little suspicious – I've seen bike thieves before," the Brown student said.
The student said he asked Baisden his name and if the bike was his, to which he said Baisden replied that the bike was his and that his name was William before riding off along Sunset toward Main. The student said he called RUPD after Baisden passed them; however, RUPD did not arrive in time to apprehend Baisden that night.
The Jones student said she was sitting outside of Jones south when she saw Baisden walking toward Brown and proceeded to follow him and call RUPD. Spears said he and Rodriguez were in an unmarked blue SUV when they responded to the dispatch, and they apprehended Baisden as he was crossing the street at Sunset and Main.
Spears said RUPD has arrested Baisden approximately five times.
"He has a trespass warning, but obviously he breaks that law regularly," Spears said.
Spears said that Baisden will be charged with trespassing and that RUPD will try to see if they can tie him to any of the four thefts they suspect him of committing over the two to three days before he was arrested. Baisden will probably be in prison for about six months, Spears said, depending on what he is ultimately convicted of.
Baisden said he uses a bolt cutter to sever cable locks and that doing so takes, at most, 20 seconds. He said he sells bikes he steals to body shops downtown for about $50 each. He said pawn shops would pay more – $100 to 150 – but they are riskier for thieves because when bikes are stolen from students, RUPD officers look for them at pawn shops.
Baisden said he uses the money from selling the bike primarily to buy crack cocaine.
Baisden said he has been convicted of theft four times so far, that he has been involved in the drug rehabilitation programs in prison during previous time spent and that he intends to do so again.
"His goal is to go into prison and get cleaned up and get off crack cocaine, and it hasn't worked out for him yet," Spears said.
Baisden said that U-locks are too much trouble to try to break bikes which have them locked to the frame, and that he instead focuses on bikes locked up with cables or with the locks around only a tire or a seat.
"Tell students to quit putting the cable around the tire – [you can] just unscrew the tire," Baisden said. "Sometimes they'll just put it around the seat, and you can just take the seat off."
Spears said that almost 100 percent of bike thefts are of bikes with cable locks or U-locks not properly locked to the frame.
Spears said that while bikes reported stolen to RUPD and of which RUPD has the serial number can be recovered if the thief sells them to a pawn shop but that it is more difficult to recover bikes which, like those Baisden is suspected of stealing, are sold to body shops downtown.
Spears said that so far this month, there have been five bikes reported stolen, and last month there were nine bikes reported stolen, three of which were recovered from a pawn shop.
Students should report any thefts or suspicious activities to RUPD, Spears said.
"A big thanks to those two students and any students who give us a call," Spears said. "You really have to go with your gut feeling – if you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, then you're probably right, and in this case, these guys were."
RUPD sells U-bolt locks for $10.
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