Boise police arrest man suspected of stealing high-end mountain bikes

jsowell@idahostatesman.comSeptember 11, 2013 

— Officers knew right where to look for the man accused of taking a $3,000 Giant Anthem X suspension mountain bike for a test ride Tuesday afternoon, then failing to return. They went to the address listed on the driver's license he showed to Idaho Mountain Touring employees before they allowed him to pedal off.

Authorities later in the day obtained a search warrant for the home in the 3000 block of Pleasanton Avenue, next to Quinn's Pond and Esther Simplot Park and less than two miles northwest of Idaho Mountain Touring's shop at 1310 W. Main St.

Officers found evidence of the theft of the Giant Anthem bike and two other bikes stolen earlier from a second shop using a similar ruse, according to a Boise Police Department report.

Police arrested Jedediah C. Fronton, 31. He was taken to the Ada County Jail, where he was charged with two counts of burglary and three counts of grand theft.

Arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Ada County Fourth District Court, Fronton’s bond was set at $25,000. His preliminary hearing was set for Sept. 25.

"I'm thrilled that they were able to catch him," said Chris Haunold, Idaho Mountain Touring's owner.

He praised two of his shop's employees, who he said "did everything right" in dealing with the man they believed was interested in buying a mountain bike and wanted to ride it first.

"I'm really proud of them," he said. "They were taken advantage of and they feel terrible."

The store requires a driver's license and either a credit card or debit card before a test ride. Clerks verify the person who is standing before them is the same person in the ID photo. They also call the bank to ensure that the card is tied to an active account, he said.

It turned out the name on the Idaho driver's license and the debit card Fronton presented were fake but the address was real, Haunold said.

Fronton knocked something off a counter before he left — to create a distraction, Haunold believed. While one of the clerks picked the item off the floor, Fronton grabbed his license from the counter, he said.

It didn't matter, however, because all of the information from the license had already been written down.

Haunold, who opened his shop in 1984 and added a second shop in Meridian in June, said it's only the second time he has lost a bike from someone who never came back. The first time happened about 15 years ago.

"Most people are honest," he said.

While most car dealers require a sales associate to accompany a potential buyer on the test drive, that's not practical for a bike shop, Haunold said.

"It's impossible to get a second person up on the handlebars," he said, finding humor despite the theft.

Police found evidence at Fronton's home that all three of the stolen bikes had been sold. Lynn Hightower, Boise Police Department spokeswoman, said she hopes the bikes can be recovered.

"It's possible they may still be if officers can track down who bought them," Hightower said.

Haunold said he hopes the bike can be found.

"Losing a bike like that would be a devastating blow," he said.

John Sowell: 377-6423, Twitter: @IDS_Sowell

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