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Two bicycle thieves jailed for six months in Monaco

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The defendants appeared on Tuesday 16 April in the summary trial - © Monaco Tribune

They are a 50-year-old Latvian construction worker and a 23-year-old Ukrainian soldier. 

Two days earlier, on Sunday 14 April 2024, the two men had been caught red-handed by the Monegasque police stealing a bicycle helmet and a Startway electric bike from the garage of an apartment building in the allée Guillaume Apollinaire. The bicycle was worth almost €6,000.

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A neighbour raised the alarm. He had bumped into a resident who said his bike had been stolen. A little further on, he noticed two individuals prowling around the garages. Given what he had just heard, the man became suspicious, and immediately suspected the two men. “What are you doing?” he asked them, then contacted the Police Department.

A knife, an angle grinder, a bolt cutter…

The officers stopped the two men and found that, in addition to their loot, they were carrying a switch-blade knife, classified as a category C weapon, an angle grinder, a pair of bolt cutters and around €1,000 which, according to their statements, they had “earned at work.” The fifty-year-old had already had a brush with the French authorities, unlike the younger man. They were taken into police custody and then remanded.

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Questioned in the box at the magistrates’ court after two nights in prison, the Latvian admitted the offences and explained: “a person who owes me money lives in the building. I needed that money for dental surgery, except I must have got the garages mixed up. I’m not a thief, and stealing in Monaco would be crazy! The woman is in Russia right now, and I was convinced there would be no complaint,” he said through an interpreter.

Earlier theft, on 12 April

The two men worked together in Monaco last year, knew each other without being particularly close, and on the day of the incident the young man was supposed to go with his former colleague to a building site in Beausoleil. But the angel-faced Ukrainian was not as innocent as he seemed. He was responsible for stealing a bicycle two days earlier, on 12 April, near the port of Monaco. The Giant brand two-wheeler is worth over €3,000, and belongs to a person from Menton who had locked it under the arches on Quai Albert 1er. The thief fled by train, but on the day of the trial admitted to the offence, adding: “I cut the padlock and I wanted to sell it on. My family has money problems in Ukraine.” 

This prompted a question from the bench: “Your country is in dire need of military personnel, so what are you doing here? Do you seriously think you’re helping your family by stealing bikes in Monaco?”  Equally dubious, the Public Prosecutor said: “I believe there would have been many more thefts in and around the Principality if they had not been arrested. These bicycles have a substantial value, and I am going to ask for a substantial sentence so that they don’t come back: three months incarceration.” Julien Pronier also suggesed that the court issue a deportation order.

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In the end, the court went further than the prosecution had requested, sentencing the two men to six months’ imprisonment. A five-year ban from Monaco was also declared. The magistrates mentioned that one of the two bicycles had been returned.