Cops nab couple in string of bike and stroller thefts

Michelle Thompson

Michelle Thompson. Photo courtesy of the Manhattan Beach Police Department

Anthony Taraszka

Anthony Taraszka. Photo courtesy of the Manhattan Beach Police Department

Manhattan Beach Police detectives arrested a burglary parolee and his wife last Wednesday for allegedly stealing bikes and strollers throughout the South Bay.

Police recovered three motorized scooters, 23 bikes, and 16 strollers from the Westchester home of Anthony Taraszka, 33, and Michelle Thompson, 31, according to MBPD Det. Sgt. Brian Brown.

“All the property we’ve recovered has been stolen in recent months,” Brown said. “We are still in the process of trying to find victims.”

The arrest followed a probation search conducted by the MBPD at the couple’s home last week.

“They were keeping the property at their home,” Brown said. “There was evidence that they intended to sell it.”

Brown said that the bikes and the strollers ranged in value from $200 to $1,000. The cost of a motorized scooter generally ranges from several hundred to a several thousand dollars.

The majority of the recovered property was stolen in Manhattan Beach, mostly from victims’ homes, according to police. So far, four Manhattan Beach victims have been identified and their property returned.

The MBPD has been jointly investigating bike thefts with the Redondo Beach Police Department since last year, according to Brown.

“Bike thefts got really bad last summer,” Brown said. “They have tapered off considerably, but they are really active in the South Bay during summer.”

In February, RBPD officers arrested the couple, charging Taraszka with burglary and Thompson with possession of a controlled substance. Both were also charged with possession of counterfeit currency and later released, according to RBPD Sgt. Shawn Freeman.

After last week’s arrest, Taraszka was held without bail, due to his probation, and faced four felony counts that include possession of stolen property and passing a counterfeit bill. Brown said that more charges may be filed against Taraszka.

“He could get hit with another 10 counts,” Brown said.

Thompson was charged with multiple felony counts of possession of stolen property and identity theft for allegedly stealing a credit card. She posted $120,000 bail two days after MBPD took her into custody.

While bike locks give many bikers a sense of security, Brown said that locks were cut in some of the thefts. He suggested the use of Kryptonite steel locks to ward off bike thieves.

“No one cuts those,” Brown said. “If they are, they’re bringing high-end blow torches to get them off. Usually they cut the chain locks.”

If you have information regarding this incident or think you may be a victim of these thefts, contact Det. Sgt. Brian Brown at (310) 802-5140. ER


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