Ex-cop cracks Sandpiper cold case


Who steals a business sign from a bicycle shop?

Honestly, what are the odds someone is going need such a thing?

That is what Greg Miller thought a quarter of a century ago when the carved wooden sign he had purchased for his Sandpiper Bicycle Repair suddenly and mysteriously went missing.

Miller, who ran his bicycle shop on Seal Beach Boulevard between Electric Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway for many years, tried to shrug off the memory.

A sometime celebrity of the bicycle world, Miller is a former US National Team member and was a cycle-pilot of the Gossamer Albatross and the Gossamer Condor, pedal powered airplanes.

Life went on for Miller and his bike shop until he moved his operations to Costa Rica, where he runs a bed and breakfast as well as—you guessed it, a bike shop.

Kevin Vilensky has been retired from the Seal Beach Police Department for the past few years. He has moved on to other work, including bodyguard to the rich and famous and some work in the film industry.

However, as Vilensky said, “You can take the officer out of the field, but you can’t take the field out of the officer.”

Then one day, Vilensky was surfing the Internet.

“About six months ago I was looking on the website for the Long Beach Flea Market at Veterans Stadium and saw in their gallery of pictures, the Sandpiper Bicycle Repair Sign,” Vilensky said.

Miller had reported the sign stolen to Vilensky 25 years ago.

“I was a Seal Beach Police officer back in 1987, when I took the report,” Vilensky said. “I went to the Flea Market and spent four hours walking the event looking for the sign but to no avail.”

Vilensky called the Event Management and learned that the picture on the website was at least six months old.

They had no idea who the vendor was, although they would take a picture with them the next time they went to take pictures to update their website.

“About a month later, I received a call from a guy we shall call ‘Milton,’ who said he had the sign,” Vilensky said. “He said it had been in storage for six years and that he decided to bring it out to try and sell it. There really weren’t any other details on where the sign had been for the other 19 years. At any rate, arrangements were made by me to meet Milton.”

Miller was notified and agreed to give “Milton” a reward for being honest and making the call to Vilensky to get the sign back.

“I picked up the sign and the rest is history,” Vilensky said. “Miller still has the bike repair shop in Seal Beach. He also owns the Sandpiper Inn and Restaurant in Jaco Beach, Costa Rica, where I think the sign may be headed.”

Vilensky retired in 2005 after 28-and-a-half years as a Seal Beach Police officer. He had worked as a hostage negotiator, beach patrol, main street foot beat and Orange County auto theft recovery officer.

He was twice awarded  for stolen auto recoveries in Seal Beach. He earned a teaching credential in police science.

“Now after retirement I do celebrity, dignitary and executive protection, having worked with celebs like Paul McCartney, Donald Trump etc. … ”

Vilensky, with support and suggestions from his friend and fellow retired Seal Beach Police Officer Rick Paap, has done some acting in a couple movies and TV commercials.

He might now add “super sleuth” to his resume.


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