TEMPE, Ariz. -- Tempe police have arrested a suspect on suspicion of trafficking stolen property following an investigation into a string of bicycle thefts.
According to police, Jeffrey Barthold would buy stolen bicycles from burglars and thieves, often painting the bikes in an attempt to disguise them. He then would resell the bikes on Craigslist or advertise them with a sign in his front yard.
"There was never a question I was in the bike business," Barthold told 3TV. "I was buying and reselling bikes."
However, Barthold said he never knowingly bought stolen bikes.
"I have receipts for everything," said Barthold, who was released from jail on an electronic monitoring device. "I bought them off Craigslist, I bought from neighbors. Every bike that I had, I had a receipt for. I'm just a businessman trying to make a living."
Officers arrested Barthold on Jan. 18 on charges of five counts of trafficking stolen property, eight counts of possession of stolen property, one count of possession of dangerous drugs (methamphetamine) and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
"I'm completely innocent," Barthold said.
However, officers say they gathered evidence, contacted victims and neighbors, and obtained search warrants prior to Barthold's arrest at his home near 10th Street and Ash Avenue.
Police say they recovered about 16 stolen bicycles. One of the owners found his vintage Schwinn on Craigslist, immediately recognizing it despite a disguise.
"So they actually spray painted it, (it) wasn't completely spray painted, so it was definitely noticeable," said the victim, who doesn't want to be identified.
The investigation continues and officers are working to identify other possible owners of the numerous bicycles that were found in Barthold's possession.
Anyone with information is requested to call the Tempe police non-emergency line at 480-350-8311.