LIVE OAK -- In response to an online petition to clamp down on suspected stolen bicycles at the Santa Cruz Flea Market, leaders this week renewed their stance against fencing.
Steve Schlicht, a bicycle advocate from Santa Cruz, launched a website at www.santacruzbikebase.com this week in part because he was frustrated with bike thefts.
The site includes a petition to Goodwill Industries of Santa Cruz County to ban bike sales because he thought it fueled a black market. Goodwill runs the Santa Cruz Flea Market on Soquel Drive, which is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
"I'm concerned there's not enough vetting in their vendor policy," Schlicht said.
At least on Craigslist, he said, authorities can track an advertiser's computer and catch people who try to sell stolen items.
Leaders at Goodwill Industries of Santa Cruz County said they received more than 25 emails related to the petition this week.
Goodwill leaders said vendors who sell items at the flea market more than twice a year need a resale permit from the State Board of Equalization.
Goodwill spokesman Lloyd Graff said before the petition, vendors in recent months have been given a card that acknowledged their agreement not to sell stolen items.
"If you are selling stolen property, counterfeit recordings or otherwise infringing items, we don't want you here!" the card states.
In response to the petition, Graff said the flea market's website would be updated to reflect the stronger language.
"We don't want stolen bikes in here either. It ruins our reputation," Graff said. "If there's even a suspicion (of stolen property), we turn them over to police."
Michael Paul, president of Goodwill, said authorities inspected vendors about a month ago and in August. He said the problem was minimal, but added that, "There's always improvements that can be made."
Friday, a few dozen vendors sold books, produce, clothing, as well as about 30 bikes and various bike parts.
Paul and Graff noted that vendors pay $15-$35 for a space at the flea market.
Police said that fee alone might deter a casual fencer. Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark said the black market for stolen bikes is a broader problem.
He said bikes are often stolen and fenced for drug money.
"We know that a lot of our drug users and people in homeless camps are stealing bikes," Clark said. "We catch them with bikes that are way out of their price range."
Santa Cruz police have more than 100 bikes in storage that have been recovered.
During sweeps of illegal camps in the city of Santa Cruz and county areas this fall, authorities found some bikes with defaced serial numbers and bikes that had been spray painted to mask their original number. Tracking a bike's serial number -- which is marked below the crank case -- makes it easier to reunite it with its owner if authorities recover it.
The city of Santa Cruz requires bike owners to register them. It had collected a $3 bicycle license fee, but the fee was killed in October 2012.
Bike owners can get licenses at the Santa Cruz Finance Department at 809 Center St., Room 101 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Santa Cruz fire stations also issue the licenses.
The Sheriff's Office does not run a bike license program for unincorporated areas.
Schlicht's website fills that gap with a free bike registration service. Users can upload pictures and serial numbers of bikes, but they do not receive a license sticker like the Santa Cruz program.
"This is something that could make a difference," Schlicht said.
Follow Sentinel reporter Stephen Baxter on Twitter at Twitter.com/sbaxter_sc
By the Numbers
Reported bicycle thefts in the CITY OF Santa Cruz
SOURCE: Santa Cruz police
Tips for bicycle owners
IF YOUR BIKE IS STOLEN
In Santa Cruz, report it stolen to police at www.santacruzpolice.com. In unincorporated county areas, report it at www.scsheriff.com. In Watsonville, call 831-471-1151.
Look for the bike on craigslist.org, eBay.com, the Santa Cruz Flea Market and on the street. If it is spotted online, authorities have helped theft victims arrange meetings with sellers to retrieve the bike.
SOURCE: Santa Cruz police