Hours after images of a stolen, custom-made motorcycle valued at $40,000 were spread across social media yesterday afternoon, the unique driving machine was back in the hands of its owner, according to Salisbury police.
According to Salisbury police Detective Keith Forget, a woman who had seen a photo of the motorcycle on Facebook saw a man wearing jeans and a T-shirt riding it on Route 107 in Seabrook.
The bright orange 2007 Iron Horse chopper was stolen from a Main Street storage trailer sometime between 4 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Monday outside Aran Trucking on property owned by what used to be Chubby’s Diner.
She watched the motorcycle turn onto Batchelder Road, which prompted her to turn around and follow. By the time she turned onto the road, the motorcycle was lying beside the side of the road.
The motorist, who police believe stole the motorcycle, was nowhere to be found. After Seabrook arrived at the scene, the motorcycle was brought to the Seabrook police where it was processed for fingerprints and any other evidence. Soon after, the motorcycle was returned to its rightful owner.
“I’m glad I got the bike back but it’s a mess,” Mike Kelleher, a St. Petersburg, Fla., resident, said.
Kelleher said the damage included a warped exhaust pipe, a broken kickstand, a missing seat, some scrapes; and when he started the motor, it fell off.
“When I started it I didn’t want to drive it,” Kelleher said. “It’s bittersweet, because I bought that bike brand new in 2007.”
Kelleher said after purchasing the motorcycle for $40,000, he paid more for some extra detail work. He kept the motorcycle in storage as he and his wife spend some time on a boat docked in Haverhill.
Forget said the idea of peppering Facebook, Twitter and sending out the images to the media was for the specific purpose of hoping someone recognized the motorcycle. And it appears that is exactly what happened.
“I think the instant media push was the catalyst,” Forget said.
“The media got the bike back. Social media and the news. I appreciate everyone getting that out there so I got the bike back,” Kelleher said.
Salisbury police Chief Thomas Fowler said Forget has been on the forefront of the department’s social media presence and that by leveraging social media and the press, the motorcycle was recovered very quickly.
“It shows how big of a following we have,” Fowler said, referring to social media.
Forget said the lock to the storage trailer was broken off by a metal pole found at the scene. Once in the unit, the thief located a key to the motorcycle inside of the trailer. When detectives processed the crime scene, fingerprint and DNA evidence was collected.
Forget said police are still investigating whether the motorcycle was targeted previously or was the victim of a random crime. But considering the type of object used to gain entry, police are leaning toward the latter.
“The thief used a metal pole to bash the lock into submission,” Forget added.
Kelleher said he believed the man who stole his motorcycle was a heroin user based on the discovery of a hypodermic needle inside the storage trailer. He went on to say the thief had no idea he’d find a unique and very valuable motorcycle when he busted through the door.
“It’s sad. It’s kind of sad. I don’t think it was targeted,” Kelleher said.