Racing bikes become the target of choice for armed robbers

Crooks have suddenly realized that those bikes athletes are peddling all over the country are not your grandfather’s Schwinn Cruiser.

Some of the competition models sell for well over $10,000, and they find a ready market in Costa Rica, a country that values bike racing.

With the realization that bikes are valuable commodities, crooks have become more bold. When bikes became the latest robbery target, the results were bound to be fatal.

In addition, Fuerza Pública officers now have added duties, protecting bike races and practice.

The murder of Mauricio Castro Hidalgo served as a wake-up call to police and sports cyclists. Castro and companions were confronted by robbers Jan. 30 as they practiced on a back road near Linda Vista de la Unión.

When competitive bike racers participated in the Copa Nacional ‘AM-PM’ de Ciclismo de Montaña Sunday the security minister had two motorcycles and four officers assigned to provide security along the route. The bikers
traveled through Santa Ana, Pozos, Calle Real Pereira and the Finca Familia Guerra.

In Puntarenas two more motorcycle policemen are assigned to provide security along bike right-of-ways in Caldera and Barranca. The security ministry has been planning measures with the Federación Costarricense de Ciclismo.

Police alertness paid off Saturday in Guanacaste when officers detained a man they identified with the last names of Monge Rodríguez, who is suspected of robbing a bike from a cyclist. Fuerza Pública officers said they found the bike in the bed of the man’s truck. They said the bike was worth 2 million colons or about $4,000.

Agents located Castro’s bike and one other when they were reconstructing the crime Wednesday. Robbers dumped the bike just several hundred yards where Castor received the fatal bullet wounds.

Just as cars that may contain evidence are torched by their thieves, Castro’s killers burned up the bikes in a field of coffee plants. They must have realized that the murder would generate a police search for the valuable bike, which was described as a top-of-the-line model. The other burned bike belonged to one of Castro’s companions, agents said.

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