A Sacramento bait-bike program leads to an unlikely and unsolved mystery
By Kim Mordecai
Just when we thought the X-Files were closed, David Duchovny has been spotted in Sacramento stealing expensive mountain bikes. Figure that one out, Mulder and Scully. Actually, it may not be the real Duchovny, but the Trek mountain bike the guy stole is the real deal, a $600 ride complete with a tracking device that allows law-enforcement officials to receive a signal and detect its whereabouts when the bike is stolen.
The bike has been pinched 11 times, which is not surprising considering it’s a pricey vehicle and bike theft is pretty common. However, this particular bike was stolen by the same individual twice, twice. Didn’t get that? Two different people stole this bike on two separate occasions each, and one of the thieves appears to be the X-Files man himself, a.k.a. Special Agent Fox Mulder.
Jason Cecchettini, the mastermind behind the bait-bike operation, installed the ProAct-IV in the bike, which is a tracking device similar to the popular LoJack system. Last March, Cecchettini began lending the bike to law-enforcement organizations interested in cutting down on theft. When Cecchettini created the bait bike, he had no idea that in addition to helping catch the bad guys, the bicycle would invite such bizarre coincidences.
In April last year, the bike was placed on the California State University, Sacramento campus, where there had been an increase in bike thefts. The bike was stolen at 11 a.m. and shortly thereafter was found with no suspect in sight. Several witnesses interviewed said the person who stole the bike looked exactly like the X-Files actor Duchovny.
A month before the Duchovny look-alike first struck, another white male about 18 to 20 years old with a heavy build and a goatee was arrested for stealing the bait bike from an apartment complex in North Sacramento. The bike was tracked to a home about a mile away, and while deputies parked in front of the house, the suspect came out and stood on his front porch. Deputies approached him and used an ultraviolet light to check his hands for an invisible powder used on the bike to help identify suspects. The man had a great deal of the bright-orange powder on his hands, admitted he had stolen the bike, and was arrested.
Some people just can’t leave well enough alone. This same suspect was then videotaped four months later stealing the bike from the same location, and, apparently, the second theft was not an accident. He generously left a note for the authorities scrawled in black crayon on the windshield of the truck the bike was in: “Thanks for the Trek. You got jacked U punk motherfucker. … P.S. Good luck with getting your doors open.”
The suspect not only had filched the bike a second time on tape but also had wedged a piece of metal in both of the truck’s door locks and had punctured the left front tire seven times. As if that wasn’t enough of a temper tantrum, he then proceeded to dump the bike at a nearby apartment complex, where it was found sunk at the bottom of a swimming pool.
Cecchettini was not amused. “Bike thieves really piss me off,” he said, noting that the bait bike led to eight arrests during its first six months of use. “Everybody’s had their bicycles stolen, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. I do this to help catch these guys.”
Though the bait bike continues to be a fruitful operation, at least one mystery remains unsolved: Duchovny, or his doppelganger, made a mysterious return appearance. Four months after the first theft, look-alike sighting and mysterious disappearance, the bike was stolen again. After police responded to the tracking alert, one officer saw the suspect riding the bicycle. The elusive crook managed to slip away and then abandoned the bike on a nearby trail. When asked to describe the suspect, the officer reported that the guy looked just like Duchovny.
“Because of the similar time of theft, day of the week, location of the bike, witness description, etc., we believe that the thefts were committed by the same person,” said Cecchettini.
Though witnesses and police have provided solid descriptions of the Duchovnyan bike thief, he has managed to evade authorities twice and has yet to be tracked down for questioning. Who is he, and what does he want? As the bait-bike program begins its second season, all Cecchettini knows is that the truth is out there.