Cops buy $300 bicycle for theft sting

Digging deep into the playbook, the Key West Police Department on Feb. 20 conducted a "covert bicycle operation" designed to catch would-be bike thieves.

In 2013, the city recorded 383 bicycle thefts, spokeswoman Alyson Crean said. So here's what the police are doing: Leave a bike sitting unlocked out in public, then wait for someone to take it. When that happens, jump out and arrest them.

According to a report from Officer Kevin O'Connell the report, police put the yellow Cannondale 900, valued at more than $300, on the sidewalk leading up to the Staples Avenue Bridge around 5:40 p.m. Thursday.

One of those arrested was Michael Farra, 49, who rode his bicycle over the bridge and "passed the [Cannondale], then made a U-turn, going back." O'Connell wrote that Farra then started to ride eastbound on Staples Avenue on his bicycle while holding the Cannondale's left handle bar.

Police stopped Farra at the next intersection.

O'Connell asked him if the bicycle was his. Farra reportedly said, "No, it had a flat tire and [I] was going to take it home and put a tire on it." He reportedly said he's not a bike thief and that he thought the bicycle was trash.

When searching Farra, they allegedly found four grams of marijuana in his pocket. He was charged with felony grand theft and misdemeanor drug possession, booked into the Monroe County Detention Center, then released.

Police spokeswoman Alyson Crean confirmed the "sting. There was probably an area where even more bikes than usual were being stolen."