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."








Brad Kava 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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