Santa Cruz City Councilman Chases Bike Thief During Meeting Break

Former mayor and current city councilman Ryan Coonerty saw a thief remove a tire from a locked mountain bike downtown and gave chase.

Santa Cruz City Councilman Ryan Coonerty saw a thief take a tire from a locked bicycle Tuesday evening and he and another witness gave chase during the dinner break in a seven-hour-long city council meeting.

While chasing the thief for more than five blocks, Coonerty pressed 9-1-1 on his phone and had a coterie of police officers join the chase. The suspect got away, but the officers found the stolen tire and replaced it on the bicycle without the owner ever knowing what happened.

"I was getting something to eat when I saw this guy walk up to a locked bike and take off the front tire," said Coonerty, 38, whose council took an hour-long break before 7 p.m.. The bicycle was parked in the heart of downtown, at Cooper Street and Pacific Avenue.

"He started walking away and then he started running," said Coonerty. He and another witness started chasing the tire thief, into and out of the Locust Street garage, past City Hall and down to the railroad tracks on Union Street, where they lost him, but found the tire.

Coonerty's Facebook page was filled with congratulations Tuesday night.

"We're hiring!" wrote Police Chief Kevin Vogel.

Community TV production manager Ryan Mulligan posted a picture of Captain America with Coonerty's face superimposed on it.

Analicia Cube, a community activist who started the neighborhood group Take Back Santa Cruz gave praise:

"Only in SC does our city council benefit from wind sprints and self defense classes. I also watched (Councilwoman) Lynn (Robinson) confront two tweakers in the park. She just got right up in their faces. Thanks guys!"

"I proclaim Ryan Coonerty Day," wrote Matt Twisselman.

"Only in Santa Cruz," wrote Paul Hood, citing a popular T-shirt in town.

"You should wear a cape," wrote Teresa Sabankaya.

Coonerty, who looks more like Clark Kent than his alter-ego, said the chase taught him a big lesson: he needs to go to the gym.

"I learned how out of shape I am." In his day job, Coonerty is an entrepreneur who started the office rental company NextSpace. "I was exhausted after chasing him only five or six blocks."

Coonerty said he calls police for problems three or four times a week. Earlier the same day he reported an intoxicated man outside City Hall.

"Most councilmembers do the same thing," he said. Last week councilwoman Lynn Robinson watched and reported drug dealing at San Lorenzo Park.

Crime and homelessness are big issues in this city of nearly 60,000. While violent crime is relatively low, much of it is centered on a homeless population that takes advantage of its tolerant attitudes and sees its downtown and river bank parks the way Mormons see Salt Lake City – as a Mecca.

The city's one murder this year occurred two months ago when a homeless man stabbed a downtown shop owner walking on a sidewalk around noon. It caused shock waves in the community and had many people questioning the city's tolerance for street people.

Last year showed drops from 6-23 percent in violent crimes including 24 rapes, 113 robberies, 343 aggravated assaults. Burglaries and thefts were up 15 percent at 568 and 2,603.

Coonerty found it ironic that the council passed its general plan the same night after eight years of work and no controversy, but the superhero incident will get this much attention.

"You pass all these policies and don't hear anything," he said. "But you save a bike tire and you get all this reaction. I guess it's that so many people have the frustrating experience of getting out and having a tire stolen."








James Weller June 27, 2012 at 07:39 AM
I just have to ask Analicia Cube, "What the hell is a tweaker?" And back to what, or where, from whom, or maybe for whom, do you want to take Santa Cruz?
Brad Kava (Editor) June 27, 2012 at 07:53 AM
Tweakers are people doing Methamphetamine..and that's who she wants to take it back from. Seems like a good idea to me.
John Colby June 27, 2012 at 01:24 PM
*yawn* I'm tired of reading about Ryan Coonerty in the local rags. He's old news like Clinton and the Bush clan. I'm tired of the Coonerty clan. Can everyone just forget about them and move on to some real news? *yawn*
Brad Kava (Editor) June 27, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Back in the day some people probably said: "That George Washington gets way too much coverage in the press. What? They want to put his face on money? Come on, let's move onto some real news." People who do interesting and exciting things in the community tend to get covered.
Johnny at the Harbor June 27, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Nothing lower than a bike thief..even if its just a tire....dirty scumbag....kudos to Ryan..and others that take action preventing crime.. Johnny at the Harbor Reading da Patch
Steven Williamson June 27, 2012 at 02:58 PM
if the liberal city counsel would allow the downtown to be cleaned up properly he wouldnt have had to chase anyone , pretty sad , we congradulate him on saving a bike tire when some of us stop crime daily for years and we dont even get a thank you , just wait till the Oakland types start showing up when the basketball team starts playing more drugs , hookers and thugs and not enough cops what a disaster in the making !!!
Ray.H June 27, 2012 at 07:06 PM
I am curious as to steven's comment about 'oakland types' and his reference to basketball. Since i already suspect what he is referring to, i still would like to hear from him a more 'complete' explanation' as to what exactly he was referring to. Having lived here in santa curz since the early 70's, i have experience both the good and bad that this area represents and i venture that steven's comment reminds me of the latter.
Robert Norse June 27, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Brad: Your unjustified connection of "crime and homelessness" does the community a disservice. Did you happen to check the status of the bike thief? Do you have any stats to justify your claim that "violent crime... is centered on a homeless population". Santa Cruz's "tolerant attitudes"? Rhode Island recently passed a Bill of Rights for the homeless that would have Santa Cruz swimming in lawsuits if human rights were enforced here. San Diego and Los Angeles have instructed police not to cite or arrest homeless sleepers, but Chief Vogel's SCPD continues to do so. It's bigotry to smear the homeless community with the Collins killing. As a journalist and someone who's had some access to the stats, you should know better than to swim along in this swamp of xenophobia.
Karen Kefauver June 27, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Yeah, Ryan! Good work - and good workout!
j8 June 28, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Karen,please, Ryan's only workouts are at "FERRELL'S" DONUT SHOPS! P.S. I hope you have a HOT new boyfriend!
j8 June 28, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Michael DesMarais June 28, 2012 at 05:26 PM
I appreciate Mr. Connerty's effort and I don't even own a bike. I also come from a law enforcement family so I appreciate the police. Now that being said I am sick and tired of people blaming the homeless for everything. Yes there is a certain element. I used to own 5 business's but lost everything in 2003. Since that time I have been homeless but working all the while never begging. It is very difficult with rent so high and trying to pay back obligations from past years. It is a constant struggle. Yes I get help staying clean and you certainly don't go hungry in Santa Cruz. I challenge any of you judgemental folks to try surviving like we homeless have to. Most of you wouldn't make it a week and you'd being crying like little babies. Stop judging until you know what people have been through. There our so many stories. People that have college degree's etc and just got handed one or more several tough breaks. I have every intention of getting back on track but you do go through a period of feeling sorry for your self. Just stop judging!
Brad Kava (Editor) June 28, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Michael: well said and point taken. I don't mean to say homeless, because that is too broad a term. How can I describe the people downtown I see who spend all day getting high, are capable of work but don't want to and then beg or commit crimes to get more money to get high, live on food stamps and hang out? They used to call them bums, which probably still applies. I'm talking about people who can but don't want to work. Homeless IS the wrong term. My apologies.
Brad Kava (Editor) June 28, 2012 at 06:00 PM
PS: I lost it all in a layoff and the downturn and know what the bottom is like. It took me three years to find a job and in the meantime I lost my home, my savings and my security. If I hadn't found work I don't know where I'd be.
Carol Skolnick June 29, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Ryan's to be applauded for his actions not as a politician but as a citizen of Santa Cruz. We may not all be up to giving chase but most of us have a mobile phone. Call in any suspicious activity, take pictures, send to Police Department. If we all did that, Santa Cruz would be a safer place and we could stop complaining about the alleged inefficiency of the police department. They can't prosecute crimes they don't know about! Homeless residents are not our biggest problem - our complacency, and delight in complaining about how bad things are, are the culprits.
John Rodgers July 02, 2012 at 06:17 PM
I've had my bike stolen and boy its no fun. it was on my way to work and someone had stolen my bike. i was able to catch the bus, but its important that people lock up their bikes. i recently got a new road se bike from http://2wheelbikes.com/se-lager-11-fixed-gear-single-speed-bike-white.html and i make sure that its secure wherever i lock it up.
John Colby November 26, 2012 at 04:12 AM
I believe that in likening Ryan Coonerty to George Washington you have left behind journalism and entered fantasy.
Robert Norse November 26, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Brad: Glorifying those who work "respectably" at cruddy wages because they have houses and can keep their addictions more private seems to be what you're doing here. And at the same time denouncing those who have opted out of that system (or been forced out of it, as you say you were for a time). Doing things like approved panhandling (say telemarketing, begging people to buy crap they don't need), murdering people overseas on government (or private security) command, making huge profits pushing destructive "legal" drugs may be respectable but it's not respect-worthy, in fact, quite the opposite. How about some exposes on the low rape closure rate by the SCPD, or real estate profiteering in Santa Cruz, or the continued drug war (even against marijuana) here against all sanity? You're still invited to come on Free Radio to discuss these and other issues. Watch the homeless-aphobia by the way. You probably need to review other articles you've written to dissociate yourself from the Take Back Santa Cruz mentality--if that's what you want to do. As for Coonerty as bike hero... This is also the Councilmember responsible for making it a crime--unlike in nearly other California city--to sit in your own car in a public parking lot and read a book, change a diaper, chat with a friend. The Parking Lot Panic Law (which the city calls the Parking Lots and Garages Trespass Law) allows only retrieving a vehicle and walking through. Heroically unconstitutional.


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