Bike theft too common of a problem in Tampa

- A man walks up to a home in Seminole Heights and snatches away a pricey bike. But thanks to a home surveillance camera, police work, and a helpful pawn shop, that bike is back where it belongs.

It's a frustrating crime and we're learning this is just one case in hundreds plaguing the Tampa residents and law enforcement each year.

Last Friday morning, Wade Cappetta parked his bike on the front porch of his home.He stepped inside for 15 minutes to feed his dog. That's all the time a thief needed to feed his appetite for crime.

"We've been riding our bikes a lot more lately, to-and-from work as well," Cappetta said. "No, I didn't think I'd get it back."

That's because his bike has been stolen before. But the last time he installed surveillance cameras for this very reason.

"He was pulling a trash can down the alleyway this way," Cappetta said, showing us the video.

You see the man stop. He drops the can. Then he walks up to the porch and helps himself.

"He stood for a minute with his grubby little hands and grabbed the bike and walked off," Cappetta said. "And he got the trash can and took it with him. He was probably taking packages off people porches and putting it in the trash can and walking with it."

The good news is, Cappetta got the bike back on Monday. Tampa police tracked it down at a nearby pawn shop, which was kind enough to return it for free.

The bad news is, it's part of a larger problem. Bike thefts have spiked, year after year in Tampa and nationwide. In 2012, there were 669 cases. That number rose to 930 in 2015. In 2016, reports dropped down to around 700 - still too high.

The problem is so widespread, there's even a Facebook page dedicated to helping people find their stolen bikes and the thieves who snatch them.

LINK: Find Stolen Bikes - Tampa & St. Petersburg

A week later, the crime captured on video still angers Cappetta, who served in the Marines.He's hoping the suspect soon finds himself behind the bars of a jail cell and not the handlebars of another stolen bike.

"It would've been nothing for me to fly out the door and end it right there on the porch. He'd have been done," Cappetta said. "I don't know the reason for a rise in this kind of crime, but it needs to stop."

What really helped Cappetta get his bike back was knowing the serial number. Anyone can register a bike with Tampa police or the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office by providing them with the serial number, make, model and color. This will give them their best chance of tracking down your bike if it's ever lost or stolen.

LINK: Register a bicycle serial number with Tampa PD

LINK: Register a bicycle serial number with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

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