To Catch A Bike Thief: Mission Police Snag 51-Year-Old Woman In Sting

Categories: Crime
'Fuck off, kid. This is my bike. Try and take it and I'll dust you.'
The police have discovered the face of the city's bike thieves, and it belongs to a 51-year-old transient named Crystal. Don't laugh. If you mess with her, she'll "dust you."

This all started with Malcolm McMahon, a City College student we wrote about a couple months back who had his bike snatched at the Mission branch of the public library. McMahon didn't just shed tears for his loyal two-wheeled companion like the rest of us; he got on Craigslist and formed a vigilante group called the Concerned Cyclists Community Program. His plan -- well, one of them -- was to lock up bait bikes in the Mission with a cheap chain, wait for a thief to strike, and then stage a citizen's arrest.

McMahon's plan hasn't gone too far. He said he's gotten too busy with schoolwork. But he has met with and complained about the problem to Mission Station Captain Greg Corrales. The captain looked into the stolen bike reports, "and then I realized, wow, we have problem here with bikes getting stolen," Corrales said. We'll say. Many are plucked, Grinch-style, out of garages when people leave the door open. Others are snatched off the front of Muni buses stopped at a red light, he says. Oh, the cunning.

So the police set up a bike thief sting using a Capella Litespeed from the police property room. The first sting at the Safeway at 16th and Bryant didn't snag anyone. The unchained bike just sat out there and nobody took it. What the hell? But the second one on, on Feb. 18 at the Market Street Safeway snagged, well, someone. A transient woman named Crystal Ysip approached the bike, looked around in all directions for several seconds, and then walked away with the bike down Market Street. (Ysip's attorney Betsy Wolkin could not be reached for comment.) When Ysip had walked for about 20 feet, an undercover officer approached her:

"Hey that's my bike! Give it back," the officer said.

"Fuck no! This is my friend's bike," she said. 

"That's my bike, ma'am, give it back," the officer insisted.

"This is not your bike. If you try and take it back, I'll dust you!" Ysip threatened. This was getting exciting.

The officer grabbed the bike with both hands and pulled it away, and Ysip pulled back in what Corrales describes as a "tug of war." The officer stopped pulling and insisted once more, "Give me my bike back, it belongs to me."

Ysip replied, "This is my friend's bike. Fuck off or I will dust you!"

Another undercover officer then approached the two and said "That's my friend, give him his bike back." Ysip was obviously not intimidated by the two men, saying "I'm gonna dust the both of you! This is my friend's bike." One of the officers and Ysip again engaged in a purported tug-of-war over the bike, until the tugger revealed himself as a cop, pulling out his badge. Ysip pushed the bike toward one of the officers and they took her into custody. It turned out she had an outstanding warrant for possession of benzodiazepine for sale, says District Attorney spokesman Brian Buckelew. 

Ysip pleaded guilty to a grand theft misdemeanor and was handed 15 days in county jail, three years of probation, and a stay away order from Safeway. Corrales says this was the first time she'd been caught stealing a bike. "I'm sure she had a lot of [bikes] but that's the first time she got caught. Thanks to our master plan, we got this arch bicycle thief off the streets."

Well, not really, she's already back out on the streets. Anyways, this arrest was brought to you -- by proxy at least -- by Malcolm McMahon, and he's content. "The police are just doing a bang-up job right now," he says.  
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