AUSTIN (KXAN) -- Austin police working with Houston police intercepted a sophisticated motorcycle theft ring during ROT Rally weekend.
Detectives started looking at the case during MotoGP weekend when victims at two different hotels along Interstate 35 in Austin reported their motorcycles were stolen from the hotel parking lot. The first theft happened at the Wyndham Hotel on April 22 around 3:27 a.m. Hotel surveillance video showed a black Ford F-150 enter the lot and then, a few minutes later, two stolen motorcycles were seen being driven out by individual riders.
About an hour later, two more motorcycles were reported stolen from the Red Roof Inn, less than 2 miles away from the Wyndham Hotel. According to an arrest affidavit, three motorcycles were chained to the fence at the hotel and in a similar fashion, the black pickup truck pulled in and two motorcycles were ridden away. The four motorcycles stolen were valued around $28,000.
As investigators started looking into the pickup truck involved, they traced it back to 32-year-old Marks Rivers of Houston. The Houston Police Department Gang Unit told the Austin Police Department that Rivers is a "well-known motorcycle thief" and he has been known to steal large amounts of motorcycles from both Austin and Dallas, continued in the arrest affidavit.
With the help of the Houston Police Department, detectives were able to place a tracking device on Rivers' truck in Houston in early May. On June 9, during the ROT Rally weekend, the tracking device alerted police that Rivers' truck with a UHaul trailer attached was on the move from Houston to Austin.
According to an arrest warrant, when Rivers got into Austin, he met up with two other suspects who came in a separate vehicle. Police say the suspects went out and stole two motorcycles, one of which was a BAIT motorcycle that APD had setup. As the suspects loaded up the trailer and made their way back to Houston, officers pulled over the vehicle that was towing the trailer; however, Rivers wasn't in that vehicle. The suspects told police Rivers coordinated the thefts and that he was in the other vehicle so if the UHaul was stopped, he would not be caught with the motorcycles, continued in the affidavit.
In order to sell the stolen motorcycles, investigators determined the thieves would buy motorcycle frames with clean VIN numbers attached and swap the stolen motorcycle on it. They would then sell the motorcycle under the new and clean VIN number.
Rivers currently has a warrant out for his arrest, but once arrested, he'll be charged with engaging in organized criminal activity.
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