BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s anti-crime agency said Friday that four people have been detained on suspicion of stealing 22 high-performance bicycles belonging to the Italian national cycling team, worth an estimated 600,000 euros ($697,000).
The Italian cyclists’ bikes went missing on Oct. 23 from a hotel in the French city of Lille where the team was staying during the UCI World Track Championships held in the nearby city of Roubaix. It is an event that sees the world’s best velodrome riders compete.
The Romanian anti-crime police say they came across the stolen bikes during a drugs bust on Thursday that targeted 14 homes in the east of the country suspected of being part of a criminal network. Other items found included electrical goods and cannabis.
Police told a news conference that the suspects were caught in the act of trying to sell the bikes, adding that they were only asking for around 1,500 euros each.
The stolen high-performance Pinarello bikes, an Italian brand, are reported to each be worth around 30,000 ($35,000) euros. Some were painted gold in honor of recent Olympic victories, and some had titanium 3D-printed handlebars.
Colonel Paolo Cestra from the Italian Embassy in Bucharest thanked the Romanian police at the news conference and said that the retrieved bikes have a “high economic value, but more importantly, they have a sentimental value.”