Bike chop shop connected to trail attacks

July 29, 2009 3:55:16 PM PDT
Montgomery County authorities are still very concerned about a spike in violence along the Schuylkill River bike trail. Action News has been reporting on this problem for a number of weeks, and now law enforcement officials think they've uncovered the motive for at least some of the river trail robberies.

Police say evidence pointed to a chop shop run by a 17-year-old boy out of his Norristown basement. Dozens, even hundreds of bikes may have passed through there.

"In the basement of his home the teen was taking them apart and putting them together and selling them," said Montgomery County D.A. Risa Vetri Ferman.

The parts were mostly for Mongoose bikes.

The 17 year old was arrested after he allegedly assaulted and tried to rob bicyclist Joseph DePaul on the Schuykill River Trail last week.

DePaul fought back by pulling a gun and firing 6 rounds at the teen, but missed.

This case is just one of an escalating number on the Schuykill River Trail, though they're not all directly connected.

In another recent incident, a woman on her bike in Norristown was harrassed by six men. Even the D.A. herself had a brush with territorial teens.

"I saw a group of kids position themselves to knock people off their bikes," Ferman said.

Ferman says police have stepped up patrols in high risk areas, but that's just the beginning. She says they'll use cameras and other technology to monitor what's going on.

Cyclists have seen the boost, and think it's working.

"Much increased patrols, police on motorcycles.... It's helping," said Michael Schwandt of West Norriton.

Now police are urging cyclists to contact them with any thefts and thuggery on the trails, or if you think your bike went the way of that chop shop.