UW Police suspect 600 stolen bikes; probe target denies wrongdo - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UW Police suspect 600 stolen bikes; probe target denies wrongdoing

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 MADISON (WKOW) -- UW-Madison Police Department officials say they executed four search warrants related to a bike theft investigation that began in May 2014.

As 27 News first reported, on Tuesday March 3, the UW Police executed a warrant in Muscoda.  

The searches took place across two counties and include a Muscoda bike shop, an apartment in the Town of Madison, a storage unit in the City of Madison, and a farm in the Town of Windsor.

Police say they discovered more than 1,000 bikes, 600 of which could be identified with serial numbers and were confiscated.

UWPD have been cross-checking serial numbers in stolen bike databases and they believe a majority of them are stolen.  For some, they believe the bikes were not reported as stolen, or they were stolen more than two years ago which is how long they stay in the database.

As a result of the investigation, charges of possession of stolen property are pending for Duane J. Tessmer, 53 of the Town of Madison and Michael J. Bingen, 57 of Muscoda.   Charges will be referred to the Dane County District Attorney's Office once they identify how many of the bikes are stolen bikes.

"This was essentially a chop shop for bikes," UW Police Chief Susan Riseling said at a Tuesday news conference at police headquarters.

"The fact that there are six hundred bikes with serial numbers we can identify, and there were piles almost to the point of mountains of bike parts, derailers, chains, those things in heaps, would lead one to believe these were not purchased,"  Riseling says.

"I've never knowingly stolen a bicycle,"  Tessmer told 27 News, after arriving at the police station during the news conference to turn in bike frames.

"I buy 'em at police auctions, garage sales, out of the trash," Tessmer said.

Tessmer told 27 News he's a bike mechanic, and has donated bicycles and locks to people unable to afford them.

But search warrant documents state a prison inmate tipped off UW Police investigators to Tessmer's potential bike thefts over nearly a decade.

"Absolutely not,"  Tessmer told 27 News in response to the claims of his years-long pattern of swiping campus bikes.

Bingen also told 27 News earlier this month he received many bicycles from Tessmer, but believed only a fraction of them could possibly have been stolen, before they were discarded and recovered by Tessmer.

Citing the unavailability of some past reports of bike thefts, UWPD asks anyone who has had a bike stolen in Dane County to fill out their online form with your bike's serial number.  You must have the serial number.  Police will contact you if they have your bike.

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