Two men on sleek mountain-racing bicycles chased a man suspected of stealing a truck through three rain-soaked city blocks yesterday, hurdling curbs, stairs and puddles before they caught him and chained him with a bike lock.
The two bicycle riders held the man until police arrived to place him under arrest.
"It was wet and we had a lot of obstacles. He kept zig-zagging back and forth on the wet concrete," said Jeff Finch, 26, who chased the suspect on a black Specialized Stump-Jumper.
"We wouldn't have caught him without the bikes. It just shows that the city police ought to have a squad of bicycle cops," said the other rider, Rob Seymour, 26. His bike was a purple Specialized M-2, worth $2,500.
Both men -- who say they use their bicycles as their main mode of transportation in the city -- work at Light Street Cycles shop in the 1000 block of Light St.
About 3 p.m., during a rainstorm that backed up heavy traffic in the city, the shop owner's husband looked out a window and saw his Dodge Dakota truck parked outside.
"It was quite a shock, because somebody had stolen it from me four months ago," said the truck owner, Bernie Troutner.
He said he went out to investigate, with Mr. Finch and Mr. Seymour close behind, and they confronted a man sitting in the truck. When the man saw them, he hit the gas and took off, heading north on Light Street, Mr. Troutner said.
Mr. Finch, a salesman, and Mr. Seymour, a bike mechanic, ran for their bikes. They chased the truck up busy Light Street but lost sight of it on Key Highway, Mr. Seymour said.
The riders pedaled as far as Calvert and Centre streets before giving up their search for the truck. Then, on their way back to the shop, they saw the suspect on foot at the corner of Montgomery and Light streets.
"He had ditched the truck," Mr. Seymour said. "We started chasing him behind the buildings over there. It was pretty rough terrain."
The riders said the man attempted to throw them off the trail by jumping over steps and stairwells along the way, but they were able to maintain the pursuit.
"I jumped some steps [riding a bike] I'd never jumped before," Mr. Finch said. "We basically ran him down until he started to tire, and corralled him."
Mr. Seymour grabbed the man, who had slipped and fallen to the ground. By that time, a third rider, Frank Klein, 22, had ridden up on his Rock Hopper bicycle.
Mr. Klein, who had watched the initial confrontation in front of the bike shop, gave Mr. Seymour a bicycle chain and lock.
Some police departments that have bicycle squads use such chains to subdue a suspect by locking them around his head and one uplifted arm -- a practice with which Mr. Finch and Mr. Seymour said they were familiar.
Police arrived minutes later and charged William Frazier, 31, for whom police had no address, with auto theft and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
"Bicycles are the only way to travel. I haven't driven my car in weeks," Mr. Finch said.