West Lafayette police investigated a claim of a stolen bike Monday night and found a backyard full of “dozens” of bicycles officers believe might have been stolen, arresting a man they found allegedly sleeping in a black Cadillac in the drive of the home on the 800 block of North Grant Street.
According to the probable cause affidavit for 54-year-old Floyd Merrell, who was charged Wednesday with three drug-related crimes, the investigation began when a man contacted police about his bike being stolen from outside his West Stadium Avenue apartment near midnight Monday.
An officer saw a bicycle at the North Grant Street property on Tuesday and later determined it was the same $800 mountain bike, court documents say. Speaking with two students and another man who live at the address, police got permission to search the property’s backyard and shed.
Officers wrote in their reports that they could see dozens of bicycles, many expensive-looking, in plain view and had long suspected some of them had been stolen.
As part of the investigation, an officer knocked on the door of the Cadillac, where Merrell had been sleeping, the court documents say. When he opened the door, the officer smelled synthetic marijuana, some of which was allegedly on his shirt.
Merrell did not admit to officers that he had any part of stealing bicycles. But the other man, who has not been arrested, told police Merrell “had brought approximately 20 bikes to the house in the past week or so.” Merrell, however, told police although he had helped the other man work on the bikes to prepare for online sale, he had no involvement in the thefts.
Police took DNA swabs from both men, some bicycles and bolt cutters they found on the property, according to the records.
As of Wednesday evening, Merrell was in the Tippecanoe County Jail on $250 bond.