Valley woman: 'Scottsdale police stole my bike'

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- With no car, Tanya Molinar depends on her two feet to get around.

"I do not have a car to get to work. The only person who has a car at this house is my roommate," Molinar told 3 On Your Side as she stood inside her empty carport.

Molinar is 24 years old and works three different jobs to make ends meet. Because she really doesn't have solid transportation, Molinar decided to get herself an inexpensive bicycle. Using her smartphone, she showed us a picture of the bike she recently bought at Wal-Mart.

"It's just a simple woman's mountain bike," she said. "Nothing fancy or big about it. It's just something to get me from point A to point B."

Molinar also showed us a Wal-Mart receipt proving she paid around $79 for the bike. But she said she only had the bike for a short time before it was stolen by none other than Scottsdale police.

"I would like my bike back because I did pay for it and stuff," she said.

Molinar's problem started when she rode her bike to work recently and locked it up in an area near Scottsdale Fashion Square. It's a place where many people park and lock up their bikes.

However, when Molinar got off work and was ready to pedal home, she noticed her lock had been cut and her bike was gone.

"I never thought I would be put in this situation before," she said.

So Molinar contacted Scottsdale police, who told her they went to the area where she parked her bike and cut off her lock. Molinar said the officer then told her he confiscated her bike.

When Molinar asked why, the officer indicated another woman who had filed a bike theft report last month passed by Molinar's locked-up bike and claimed it was the stolen bike.

"I talked to the officer in charge and he kept on saying, 'It's her bike. It's her bike,' " Molinar said.

She said she had that Wal-Mart receipt proving she bought it, but Scottsdale police had already confiscated it.

"He kept saying, 'Well, she's a victim.' And I'm like, 'I'm a victim here, too,' " Molinar said.
3 On Your Side got a hold of Scottsdale police and asked them to look into the matter. After doing so, they told 3 On Your Side that the officer followed proper protocol by seizing the bike because the other woman reportedly pointed out identifiable marks. Those marks, according to police, were the woman's initials.

Molinar says that's impossible. She added that Wal-Mart has probably sold countless identical bikes.

3 On Your Side, which was given a copy of Molinar's Wal-Mart receipt, offered to give it to Scottsdale police as part of their investigation. However, they refused to take it, saying the receipt would have to come directly from Molinar and not 3 On Your Side.

However, 3 On Your Side has learned that police are now refusing to hand the bike over to the other woman. Instead, a police spokesman claims they are holding the $79 bike and will leave it up to a court to decide who it belongs to. That means Molinar and the other woman will actually have to fill out paperwork, go to court, and testify before a judge.

Molinar says the whole ordeal is unbelievable. She says while the value of the bike is relatively small, she feels like she's been labeled a thief and that hurts. It also angers her that someone else can so easily claim her property is theirs.

For now, Molinar is left pounding the pavement, and she says she doesn't like being called a thief.

"They say all the time, 'You're innocent until proven guilty.' Well, I was already proven guilty before they ever even talked to me," she said.