A jury convicted the man who became known as
the Platte County "Bicycle Bandit" of
seven counts, including robbery, assault, and
armed criminal action in Platte County Circuit
Court December 10. The jury recommended Miguel
M. Vaca, 45, of Kansas City, North spend life
and a total of 102 years in prison for his crimes.
Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said, "Three
times over a period of 3½ weeks, Miguel
Vaca covered up his face with a ski mask, grabbed
a gun, and demanded money from someone at gunpoint.
Worse yet, every crime he committed increased
in violence. The jury was right to convict him
on all charges, and they were right to recommend
he spend the rest of his life in prison.
Platte County jurors returned seven guilty verdicts
against Vaca for a string of armed robberies along
Barry Road near I-29 in late 2002. They recommended
he spend life in prison for one of his robberies
and a total of 102 years for the remaining crimes.
The court will determine whether the sentences
run consecutively or concurrently.
When he was caught, police found a dollar bill
taken during Vacas first robbery with handwritten
details of the crime, stating the robbery "felt
Zahnd said the confession on the dollar bill,
together with ballistics evidence from where Vaca
fired his gun at two crime scenes, were significant
reasons for the guilty verdicts.
"Its not every day someone writes
a confession on the money he took during that
crime," Zahnd said. "After robbing two
women at gunpoint, Vaca kept a souvenir of his
crime and described its details, using information
only the gunman would know."
Vaca became known as the "Bicycle Bandit"
because he used a mountain bike to flee from his
crimes. He was armed with a handgun and wore a
ski mask during each of his offenses.
Zahnd and First Assistant Prosecutor Mark Gibson
presented the states case against Vaca at
Vaca robbed Salon North Nail Salon at 5559 N.W.
Barry Road on Oct. 21, 2002. The victims testified
that a man in a ski mask came in the business
at about 7 p.m., while two women were alone in
the salon. After pointing a gun at the women and
receiving only one dollar, Vaca grabbed and squeezed
one of the victims buttocks and then told
the women to get on the floor. A witness saw a
man in a ski mask with a mountain bike about the
time of the robbery.
On Oct. 30, 2002, Vaca robbed the business next
door to the salon, Quality Cleaners at 5557 N.W.
Barry Road, again wearing a ski mask. An employee
of Quality Cleaners, who was working alone at
the time, testified that Vaca produced a gun and
demanded money. When he did not immediately respond
to Vacas demand, Vaca fired a shot into
the ceiling. The employee gave Vaca about $100
cash, and Vaca told the employee to lie on the
floor. Witnesses again saw a man fleeing the scene
on a mountain bike.
On Nov.15, 2002, Zahnd said Vacas crimes
reached their peak with an armed robbery at the
Coves North Apartment Clubhouse at 5417 N.W. 85th
Street, just North of Barry Road. Zahnd said several
children were gathered for a birthday party at
the clubhouse when Vaca entered after concealing
his face with a ski mask. Eyewitnesses testified
that Vaca pointed a gun at several young girls
and told them to get on the floor.
Vaca then grabbed the mother of the birthday
girl and demanded money. When no money was found,
Vaca pushed the woman down the stairway of the
clubhouse and tried to force her into a restroom,
where she thought she would be raped or killed.
When she resisted, Vaca hit her on the head with
his handgun. The woman broke free and ran out
of the clubhouse screaming for help. When an area
resident tried to assist, Vaca fired a shot at
"Every crime this man committed escalated
in violence," Zahnd said. "First, he
just showed a gun. Then he fired a shot into the
ceiling. Finally, he held children at gunpoint,
tried to push a woman into a restroom, hit her
on the head, and shot at a man who tried to come
to her aid. Who knows what would have happened
next if he had not been caught."
The robbery unit of the Kansas City, Missouri
Police Department broke the case when they canvassed
the Coves North Apartments, passing out "wanted"
flyers listing a description of the suspect. A
resident identified Vaca as fitting the description
of the robber, and Vaca was arrested.
A search of Vacas residence later uncovered
a small black revolver, a mountain bike, a large
amount of cash, and the dollar bill confessing
to the Salon North Nail Salon robbery.
Prosecutors called two forensics experts during
the trial. One expert testified that the handwriting
on the recovered dollar bill matched Vacas
handwriting. A ballistic expert testified that
bullets recovered from the crime scenes matched
the gun found in Vacas residence.
When police arrested Vaca, they searched his
residence. They found a one dollar bill that prosecutors
said had his confession written on it: "I
robbed Salon North the night of October 21, 2002.
The woman . . . was good looking. She had [nice
buttocks]. She was with another woman at the time.
I came in the door and told them to give me some
money. It was my first robbery and it felt great.
Before I left I told those women to get . . .
on the floor and stay there, then I left.
Zahnd said, "Business owners often save
the first dollar they earn. This man did the same
thing, he kept a souvenir from his first crime,
and that blunder ultimately led to his conviction.
The community should thank these jurors for making
the Kansas City area a safer place by putting
the defendant behind bars for a long time.
Vaca is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 13
at 10 a.m.