Months after military police seized mountain bikes from riders trespassing on a San Diego military base, U.S. Marines returned some of the bikes to their owners.
After reaching a settlement with five mountain bikers, Military Police at MCAS Miramar started the process Monday to return the mountain bikes confiscated in mid-January.
They’re also asking other riders to contact base officials if they’d like to take part in a similar settlement.
Five expensive mountain bikes, some worth as much as $10,000 and still caked with dirt, were loaded into the back of an MP's pickup truck.
“I have my bike back and that’s all that matters. Nobody got hurt, everything is cool. A settlement is a settlement and I just want to move forward and go ride,” said Bobby Davila of San Carlos.
Davila is one of five mountain bikers who reached a settlement with the Marines after hiring Oceanside attorney Richard Duquette, who worked with a federal magistrate and retired Brigadier General David Brahms.
Duquette said the cyclists agreed to dismiss a civil suit and pay a $250 fine in exchange for termination of any criminal case and the return of the bikes.
“They don’t have to go to court, there’s no conviction, there’s no civil suit, and the exchange is a promise not to sue,” said Duquette.
At least 45-bikes were confiscated by military police on January 16. Many of the riders said the trails around Sycamore Canyon were poorly marked and they didn’t know they were trespassing. One cyclist said it put them in the strange position of fighting the military to get their bikes back.
“I love my military. I appreciate what they do for us, but it just seems that we couldn’t do anything. We were fighting against our own military,” said Esteban Rodriquez of La Jolla.
Duquette says the military has since increased signage in some areas, warning bikers they are trespassing on federal property.
Meanwhile, the Marines released a statement on the settlement:
On Friday, March 18th, a Federal Magistrate Judge in San Diego approved a settlement agreement between the United States Attorney's Office and five individuals cited for trespassing aboard MCAS Miramar over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. With these five cases complete, any associated evidence was released to the owners. Other individuals who were cited for trespassing that weekend and are interested in a similar outcome may contact Major Kevin Brown, Special Assistant United States Attorney, at email@example.com. As we have consistently maintained, individuals who have been cited for trespassing aboard MCAS Miramar can retrieve impounded evidence following the adjudication of their citations. Our Military Police Officers will continue to act within their authorities to enforce the boundaries of MCAS Miramar and we ask community members to avoid the air station property.