Woman claims she was set up by Sacramento police bait bike

By Doug Johnson

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- Since 2013, the Sacramento Police Department has been using a bait bike program to deter bicycle thefts.

The bikes are placed around the city and investigators use GPS to notify them when they have been stolen.

But one woman claims she was set up with a bike that appeared to be abandoned in a lot known for illegal dumping, as she and her toddler tried to escape a particularly hot day.

"You can find anything from here if you come on the right day," Candace Roberts said of the lot by Sears Drive and Royale Road, near the Arden Fair Mall.

Roberts said she and her 2-year-old son had walked two miles in a 90-degree day until they came upon the bike. There was a combination lock on the bike, which Roberts said fell off when she lifted it.

"I saw a free bike," Roberts said. "I just took it."

Roberts says as soon as she got home with the bike, police knocked at her door.

It turned out the bike Roberts thought was abandoned was a bait bike with a GPS tracker in it.

"I was looking at him in his eyes, and I was like, 'This is going to ruin me,'" she said.

Roberts was arrested and spent two nights in jail before bailing out.

"I didn't do anything wrong, I didn't kill anyone. I have two felonies, I have a record now," Roberts said.

The case might not be so simple for police, according to attorney Mike Wise.

"If I find abandoned property and there's no clear owner of the property, at that point there's no specific intent to steal anything from anybody," Wise said. "It's not locked up, it's out in the public view, it could trigger somebody to go ahead and take it home. Now you're alleging it's criminal conduct they wouldn't otherwise normally engage in, so yeah, it certainly lends itself to an entrapment argument."

The Sacramento Police Department said it wouldn't comment on an active investigation, but said bait bikes are always locked up.

Roberts is a survivor of domestic abuse and said she never had a chance to report the bike she found before she was arrested. She says she's also found a lot of other abandoned property in the same lot.

"These couches, some of these toys I got there," she told FOX40. "All from outside."

Regardless if the case gets tossed out of court or not, Roberts still had to bail out of jail. She's still on the hook for $500.

"I'll never pick anything off the street again," Roberts said.

The Sacramento County District Attorney's Office has not yet made a final decision on the case. Roberts is due in court on Thursday.