Bicycle theft ‘sting operation’ leads to three arrests in Olympia

In response to a recent rash of bicycle thefts in Olympia, police staged a sting operation that resulted in the arrest of three suspects.

Police kept an unattended city-owned bicycle under surveillance Saturday night (Sept. 6) in downtown Olympia. Around 11:25 p.m., a suspect approached the bicycle while riding his own bicycle, then left, only to return later to ride away on the city-owned bicycle, according to police. The suspect was arrested for theft.

About 35 minutes later, police re-staged the city-owned bicycle. A second suspect rode up on a bicycle, then took the city-owned bicycle to another location and outfitted it with lights, according to police. A third suspect arrived a few minutes later and rode away with the city-owned bicycle. The second and third suspects were arrested, according to police.

According to police, three total suspects were arrested for theft as part of the sting operation: Lacey resident Eric Palladino, 23, and Olympia residents Michael Bebich, 26, and Jonathon Whitney, 23. Police believe the suspects may have committed similar crimes. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Olympia Police Department at 360-753-8300.

Last week, Olympia police reported finding a bicycle “chop shop” in homeless encampments earlier this summer. Police received 30 reports of stolen bicycles in August, and prior to June, police had previously averaged fewer than 12 such reports each month, according to the department. The bicycle thefts have been reported citywide, and police are trying to locate owners of the stolen property.