Suspect nabbed in string of bike thefts

A suspect was discovered by Campus Safety after three bicycles were reported stolen last week.



Campus safety is warning drivers and bike riders alike to be more conscious of their belongings. | Lindsey Manus/THE CHIMES

Katie Nelson, Writer

Campus safety is warning drivers and bike riders alike to be more conscious of their belongings. | Lindsey Manus/THE CHIMES [file photo]

A suspect in the thefts of three bicycles from the Tradewinds Apartments was arrested by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department at 4:09 a.m. Wednesday morning. Thomas Watashe, 26, was seen by a Campus Safety officer attempting to steal a bicycle from the apartment complex. He was subsequently booked by LASD, charged with a misdemeanor and is being held on $100,000 bail.


After three stolen bicycles were reported to Campus Safety last week, Campus Safety chief John Ojeisekhoba posted plainclothes officers around Tradewinds to watch for suspicious activity. Students living in Biola-owned apartments were also notified of the thefts by an email, according to Ojeisekhoba.

“We developed a plan aside from the initial assessment we did,” he said. “We put plainclothes personnel outside. We did this for a couple of days … [they sat] down and watched all the apartments.”

Although Watashe was arrested, Ojeisekhoba said he believes there is more than one perpetrator responsible for the thefts.

“They come, a lot of times, late at night,” he said. “We know there are a lot of guys out there with a criminal history near those apartments.”

Jessie Forster, a junior intercultural studies major, has had her bike stolen from campus twice in the last year. The bike was originally taken from the bike racks near Lansing Pool the day of Mock Rock 2013.

“The first time I was only gone for two hours, then I came back and I found that it wasn’t there,” Forster said. “Probably three months later I was walking, and I found it by the track. It was parked with a lock right next to it.”

The same bicycle was taken again earlier this semester, but was recovered shortly after, according to Forster.

“This one I left overnight and then I came back in the morning to see if it was there and it wasn’t there. I ended up finding it later that day over by the Caf,” she said. 

Both times the bike was not locked onto the rack, Forster said.

“I bought a lock and now I have the lock on me but I haven’t been able to use it because I never bring my key with me,” she said. “I’m going to try and lock it but I forget.”


Although one thief was apprehended in this case, Ojeisekhoba warned students to be careful with their possessions, especially after the semester ends and fewer people are around to spot criminal activity.

“We’re going to continue the surveillance through the end of the semester,” Ojeisekhoba said. “Over Christmas break, all the students living in those apartments, keep your bikes in your rooms or take them with you.”

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