UPDATE: Man Arrested Clears His Name

UPDATED: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 -- 9:45 p.m.
By: Barclay Pollak

Two weeks ago, he was thrown behind bars after he allegedly tried to steal a bike. But the Madison man is saying it's all a big misunderstanding and now officials are saying he might be right.

Kelley Howe says he was just curious. But that curiosity landed him in hot water and he's just hoping to clear his name.

"That's a replica of Lance Armstrong's '99 bike he won with the Tour De France. I am familiar with bikes," Kelley Howe, 50, said looking over one bike.

Earlier this month, Howe was heading home after a bike ride with some fresh groceries and his cat along side. Just a few days earlier his brother, Mike, told Howe his bike was stolen.

While on his journey home, Howe saw what looked like his brother's wheels. "I see three males around a bicycle. One of whom is about 22-years old. He's straddled over a bike and it's way to big for him," Howe said.

He thought about continuing home as he'd planned, but something told him not to. "I start to drive away and I thought, 'You know, I should just turn around the corner and run over and confirm it's not Mike's bike and then I'll feel like I tried.'"

After about a 20-minute conversation in front of a muffler and brake shop on South Park Street with the men who Howe thought stole his brother's bike, he grabbed a piece of a muffler and threw it into the street in front of a police car hoping to get the officer's attention.

According to Howe the cop pulled over, separated the men and, after a few minutes, slapped the cuffs on Howe. "My heart just goes, 'Oh no,'" he said.

Howe would spend the next day or so behind bars and he got hit with one count of attempted robbery with use of force and two other charges.

To make things worse he also got a $30 parking ticket. "That just adds insult to injury," Howe said.

Now, good news for Howe. The Dane County District Attorney's office told us over the phone Wednesday night that they will recommend dismissing the felony charge of attempted robbery with use of force.

The charge was filed right after the incident happened. Investigators later confirmed the bike belonged to Howe's brother.

The DA's office says laws provide the victim the right to a say at the hearing on Monday and that's why the charge hasn't already been officially dropped.

The other two charges are misdemeanors and as of Wednesday have not been dismissed.

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UPDATED: Tuesday, July 7, 2009 --- 8:10 p.m.

It's been a rough week on the roads for area bikers.

But one of the cities biggest bike problems, theft, is actually improving and one lucky rider wants to help.

There isn't much question when it comes to the quality of biking in Madison. The cities biking population is one of the busiest. But if you take Monday as an example, not one of the safest.

First police say they arrested 50 year old Kelley Howe in front of a Park Street muffler shop for trying to steal a bike away from a rider who was still on it.

Then an innocent 13 and 14 year old boy were chased down, roughed up and robbed while riding on this West side street.

Roger Charly with Budget Bicycle Center says, "I'd like to think it does not happen here at all."

Charly is one of many in the biking community surprised by the attacks but he's also been involved in fixing one the cities biggest bike problems, thefts.

He says, "You want to have safe bike trails and have your bike be there when you get back."

We first told you last year about a bait bike program where UW police put GPS tracking devices on bikes then trace the thieves when they're stolen.

New numbers for the first half of this year show only 87 bike thefts reported in Madison compared to 426 all of last year.

Maggie Grabow was one of the unlucky ones last November.

She says, "My bike is my main form of transportation and it was gone and I was just devastated because I had no way to get around besides by foot and by bus."

7 months later she had about the biggest swing of luck imaginable. While running on campus Monday there it was, her bike, sitting at a bike rack.

She says, "I took a double take. Oh my gosh that was my bike. I haven't seen it for 6 months. That is my bike. It was awesome."

It was bit of good news on an otherwise rough day for those on two wheels.

Grabow is now doing what she can to warn others.

Registering your bike is quick, easy and it's pretty cheap. It's something Grabow is recommending everyone do. She says it would have made her ordeal a little bit easier.

In the city of Madison you can get a four year bicycle registration for only 10-dollars.

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POSTED: Tuesday, July 7, 2009 --- 5:30 p.m.

It's been a big problem in Madison for years and it's rare to hear any good news after someones bike is stolen.

But it's a crime that's actually decreasing and once in a while you get lucky.

For Maggie Grabow is was seven months of anger before yesterday, out of the blue, she stumbled upon her stolen bike.

Grabow says her bike was taken from outside the University Avenue building where she works in November.

She filed a self report with Madison police and waited, sure as time went by she'd never see her bike again.

Then Monday while out on a run there it was sitting at a bike rack on campus.

Grabow says, "I was so surprised I think I started jumping up and down and not yelling but screaming to my roommate, Ann this is my bike. It was unreal, unreal."

She called police who pulled up the report, pulled out the lock cutters and gave her the bike back.

Madison Police say there have only been 87 bikes reported stolen through June compared to 426 all of last year.

Tonight at ten we'll take a closer look at the decreasing numbers and a program that's making a big difference.


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