Bike Theft Ring at U-Maine, UVM Uncovered

Four University of Maine students who allegedly ran a bicycle “chop shop” from their dormitory face charges in Maine and possibly in Vermont.Summonses were issued to the four after a search of three rooms in Somerset Hall yielded numerous stolen bicycles and parts, according to UMaine Police Chief Noel March.Daniel Jaffe, 19, of Easton, Conn., Mark E. Phelps II, 18, of Shapleigh and Flann C. O’Brien, 20, of Winthrop were charged with four counts of receiving stolen property. Matthew P. Neves, 18, of Freedom was charged with one count of receiving stolen property.The students allegedly stole the bicycles, stripped them down in the dorm rooms and then sold the parts. Numerous bicycle thefts were reported on the Orono campus during the fall semester, March said. Some of the parts found in the dorm were from bicycles reported stolen at the University of Vermont, he said. After receiving tips from students and staff at UMaine and becoming aware of similar thefts at the Burlington, Vt., campus, officials from both institutions began working together and discovered the alleged bicycle chop shop, March said. While police were still totaling up the value of the recovered bikes, frames and other parts, he said it could reach into the thousands of dollars.”I’m sure that ultimately we’ll be pursuing felony charges with the District Attorney’s Office,” March said.Officials are checking with other northern New England schools that might have been plagued by similar bicycle thefts, he said.”(Vermont police) are considering charges of theft relative to this case,” March said. The four suspects are scheduled to appear in Bangor District Court on Jan. 23. The matter also will be reviewed by the university’s student conduct code committee.