MASON CITY, Iowa — Mason City police say bicycle thefts are on the rise this year, as more thieves seek cash for drugs.

There have already been 175 bikes reported stolen this year, the Globe Gazette reported ( ). In all of 2015, only 132 bikes were stolen.

Mason City Police Lt. Rich Jensen says stolen bikes are often found in pieces in “little clandestine bicycle chop shops.”

“It’s just a few bikes there together, but a bunch of frames laying somewhere, a bunch of forks, a bunch of wheels, tires, derailleurs, handlebars,” he said.

Jensen said the thefts are often linked to people seeking money for drugs.

When police searched an apartment last month, they found drug paraphernalia, two complete bikes, a pile of bicycle frames and dozens of bike parts.

“There were bikes in the living room, the kitchen, above the kitchen cabinets, in the basement,” Jensen said. “They were everywhere. Wherever they could tuck one away.”

Theft victim Adam Ochoa said he couldn’t believe it when his bike was recently stolen for the second time in five years.

He has gotten lucky. The first time his bike was stolen, he found it at the police department’s annual auction. This time, police found it in a basement while arresting a man on an outstanding warrant.

But Ochoa said he’ll have to pay to fix damage to his bike, just like he did the first time.

“The thing that irritated me the most was the last time I got it back I had to spend like 70 bucks for the seat and post,” he said. “And, then to get it back and, oh, cool, I have more work to do to it.”

Jensen said the bicycle thieves appear to be getting bolder, and aren’t just grabbing unlocked bikes anymore.

“If it was locked up, they wouldn’t mess with it,” Jensen said. “Now, this summer, we’ve seen a few cables and chains actually cut, which is not typical.”

Information from: Globe Gazette,

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