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Police: Serial bike thief caught after theft outside Riverside supermarket

Sun-Times file photo

A man was charged with stealing a bike last week outside a supermarket in west suburban Riverside.

Michael J. Wiltzius, 46, stole the unlocked bike near the front doors of Riverside Foods, 48 E. Burlington St., at about 7 p.m. March 23 when the bike’s owner went inside for a few minutes, according to the Riverside Police Department.

Wiltzius has a history of stealing bikes in Riverside, RPD Chief Tom Weitzel said in a statement. Police received video surveillance from the store manager and recognized Wiltzius in the footage, having arrested him numerous times before.

Michael Wiltzius | Riverside Police
Michael Wiltzius | Riverside Police

After police put out a wanted poster with surveillance images, Wiltzius was spotted panhandling Thursday on Harlem Avenue near I-55 in Forest View, police said. He was arrested by Forest View police.

Wiltzius lives two blocks from the supermarket, police said. Police were able to retrieve the silver-colored, Trek men’s road bike, which the owner paid about $500 for.

Lyons police had recovered the stolen bike several days before Wiltzius’ arrest, but they did not know the bike was stolen until Riverside notified them about the theft, police said.

Wiltzius was charged with one count of felony theft and criminal damage to property, according to police. Police have attributed as many as six bike thefts to him, and he has 33 prior arrests that include driving under the influence, disorderly conduct, criminal trespass, theft, retail theft, drugs, battery and domestic battery.

While in police custody, he reportedly was highly intoxicated and broke away from an officer while being processed in the booking room. He then pulled his pants down and defecated on the floor before being taken back into custody and transported to another facility, according to the RPD.

“If I could, I would have made him clean up his own mess,” Weitzel said in the statement. “However, the booking room was cleaned professionally by a company specializing in biohazard cleanup and a bill will be sent to Michael Wiltzius so he can pay for the extensive cleanup that needed to be done in our lock-up facility.”

Police said more charges against Wiltzius are possible as detectives continued to investigate.