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  1. #1
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    Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    OK I had long given up this bike as lost, it wasn't a lot of money at the time ~$2,000...

    Making a long story short. I "bought" a bike in 2004 and before I had the chance to register it, it was stolen from my garage. We saw the guys on video, but no leads. Oakland PD came out and told me that since the bike was not registered in my name that I could not submit a police report, even with title in hand.

    I still have title in hand, signed over on the day of sale. There was no bill of sale on the bike from what I recall (11 years ago) as it was partial payment for an camper I sold to this guy.

    I was looking through my records for another bike last night and when I found the bike title, I decided to do a records search for $20 and the bike showed up as re-registered, and, interestingly, in the Central Valley city where I bought it. Hmm...

    So today I went to the AAA office where they have DMV services with title in hand. I explained my situation and the clerk indicated that the bike was registered to the guy that I bought it from back in 2004!

    I'm guessing that either the bike was stolen, recovered, and sent back to the original owner per DMV records, or it was stolen by the guy I bought it from (doubtful, seemed like a standup guy). Now I guess the original owner could have lost my contact info and had no way of getting ahold of me, but that seems to be a stretch. So I expect that he has the bike and knows it's not his...

    My question is, after all these years, with what I've described, do I have any recourse? I have the title in hand, signed over to me by the owner. BUT, I did not submit it to DMV within the 10-days as required and stated on the title.

    If I do have recourse, has anyone had experience in this scenario? Do I start with DMV? OPD? Police office in the city where bike is registered?

    Thanks in advance for any insight or humor...
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  2. #2
    The Busa Cop
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    I don't know , but good luck . Thats a weird story .



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  3. #3
    2009 Hooligan of the year
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    If the title was signed over by him and dated, you at least have his signature for comparison. He should have signed the registration paperwork. A call to the cops would be my first order of business since things have changed since they did their original investigation.

  4. #4
    BadAss Hooligan
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    Interesting situation. You really should have completed a bill of sale, or a least a document laying out the exact terms of the deal you struck.

    I wonder if it's possible to find out how it got back to the seller and the reason he gave when he got a new, or duplicate, title.

    If you traded him another titles vehicle, depending on when he got the bike back, I think he could have found you.

    I wonder what would happen if you went over there.
    Slowing down Harley riders for 35 years

  5. #5
    Devils’ Advocate
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    The then current owner can just go to the MVD and request a duplicate title.
    The new title takes "title" over the old one at that point.

    The 10 day period is to protect you. If any of you buy a vehicle that does not run, just go to MVD and file for "Title Only", then when you get it running you can do a full registration.

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  6. #6
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    Thanks for the comments. At this point I'll probably just let it rest. Lesson learned 11 years ago...get a bill of sale and send in the paperwork within 10-days...I had forgotten all about the bike, but last night when I was looking for another bike's paperwork, I found the stolen bike title and was curious if one of those internet search companies would turn it up with the VIN and lo' and behold, it did...thanks again.
    '00 ZRX1100 Green
    '76 KZ900 Green
    '75 CB400F Red
    '75 CB400F Red port to 458

  7. #7
    Devils’ Advocate
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    Quote Originally Posted by bikeymikey View Post
    Thanks for the comments. At this point I'll probably just let it rest. Lesson learned 11 years ago...get a bill of sale and send in the paperwork within 10-days...I had forgotten all about the bike, but last night when I was looking for another bike's paperwork, I found the stolen bike title and was curious if one of those internet search companies would turn it up with the VIN and lo' and behold, it did...thanks again.
    Always worth a try. See what MVD/Police will do.

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    Pete Aronson
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  8. #8
    2009 Hooligan of the year
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    Quote Originally Posted by bikeymikey View Post
    Thanks for the comments. At this point I'll probably just let it rest. Lesson learned 11 years ago...get a bill of sale and send in the paperwork within 10-days...I had forgotten all about the bike, but last night when I was looking for another bike's paperwork, I found the stolen bike title and was curious if one of those internet search companies would turn it up with the VIN and lo' and behold, it did...thanks again.

    I think I would still at least give him a call. You know, just to find out how your bike is doing and all.

  9. #9
    BadAss Hooligan
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    I would definitely go over there and speak with him. Bring a couple of large friends just to make sure the situation stays calm.
    "Enjoy your body, use it in every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or care what other people think of it... It is the greatest instrument you will ever own". Baz Luhrmann

  10. #10
    Devils’ Advocate
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    Quote Originally Posted by zarex View Post
    I would definitely go over there and speak with him. Bring a couple of large friends just to make sure the situation stays calm.
    In Arizona, it is legal to brandish a weapon...but it is not legal to shoot to protect a vehicle unless you are sitting in/on it...jus' sayin.

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    WARNING: ELS Products MAY CONTAIN, or be Made With, Patented Parts, Tools, Components and/or Apparati. Manufacturing Facility DOES Contain Nuts.

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    Pete Aronson
    315 West Elliot Road
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    602-397-4869.

  11. #11
    BadAss Hooligan
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    What about taking your title to the dmv, registering the bike, and then go and take it back.

    How would that work?

    How could you get in trouble for stealing your bike?

    This has come up with old cars, and the person who physically had control of the vehicle won every time I am aware of.

    You would need it registered, and even insured. Then go get it. But I guess since it is already registered, something would flag if you tried. Maybe register it out of state, then show up when he is not home, but someone else is home, with the local sherif. Then ride away under the approving eye of the law.

    It sounds like the original seller/owner is actually the thief. I don't see how he gets the bike back and doesn't tell you. He knows he sold it. He knows who he sold it too. He knows he has been paying to register and insure it for 11 years. He won't be surprised when it is taken from him. It is not his.

    I think it is improbable this dude is anything but the thief.
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  12. #12
    BadAss Hooligan
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    Very Interesting. Please keep us posted on how things turn out.

  13. #13
    BadAss Hooligan
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    I'm with Bossracer on this. I would be getting my bike back. The guy you bought it from is the thief.

  14. #14
    Hooligan
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    I would pursue the matter a bit more. You've got nothing to loose and you might get your bike back in the end. Did DMV provide you with a date the bike was re-register by the guy? As said before, keep us posted on updates.

  15. #15
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    To the latest response, bike was registered in 2011 and according to records it is current, since it's a dirt bike. I did the checking at the AAA office here that has limited DMV services. I will likely head to the real DMV this week and I won't give up yet...

    I appreciate all of the insight, I won't be going over there all puffed up or anything like that, he's two hours from me and for $2K (in 2004 dollars) worth of bike, I don't need the risk or hassle. But if he is the thief or the opportunist that got the bike when the cops located him as the registrant, it would be great to get some recourse.

    As a sociological / karma experiment (I've be in California too long now from the "Live Free or Die" state), I might send him a letter. In it I'd re-introduce myself, let him know the bike had been stolen shortly after I received it from him in the trade, tell him that I just learned it was re-registered by him (2011) and see where it goes... For now, at the risk of sounding naïve, I'm going to go with the theory "he isn't a thief, just an opportunist" and was not able to locate me after the sale. Heck, other than the title, I can't find anything about the guy or the sale in my records or emails, so maybe he wasn't able to find me either.

    I'm remembering more detail as I think back 11 years. Garage was in old building, live work loft with about 25 parking stalls all side by side. There were 2 remote control industrial door access gates to get and one pressure activated to exit. From recall, video shows guy coming in through pedestrian door early in the morning, 5-ish. He could have tailgated in with someone but more likely jimmied the lock and then activated the exit door, allowing his accomplice to back in with a pickup truck (partially seen in video). Bike was a dirt bike, not street legal. It was parked next to my 2000 ZRX1100 and my 2004 Ducati Multistrada, alongside a upright air compressor too heavy for one person to lift. I had the 3 bikes and compressors all locked together, well, most of the time...except that about a week prior to the theft, I had gone down and moved things around and forgot to lock it all back up. So instead of them taking the $7.5K Duc or $4.5K Rex, they took the dirt bike and compressor. Duc and Rex would have been more conspicuous and less easy to ride, use? Anyhow I guess I was fortunate not to lose the Duc or Rex, although both of those were insured and properly registered...

    Another kicker. I never once rode the bike after the test ride at his place. I loaded into my pickup, transported it back to Oakland, and it sat, waiting to be stolen! Doh!

    I will keep you posted and if interesting enough, maybe this can turn into CSI Oakland...I'll tell you all about my battles with the battery thief at the West Oakland BART as part of my next installment...
    '00 ZRX1100 Green
    '76 KZ900 Green
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    '75 CB400F Red port to 458

  16. #16
    BadAss Hooligan
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    If you tip your hand to the thief/seller, that bike will disappear forever.

    Sorry to be Debbie downer on this. If you want the bike, do not engage with him. I can not say that more clearly.

    Formulate a plan that ends with you taking the bike from his house under the supervision of the local cops. The path doesn't matter. But the end matters all.

    If you don't care, then let it go. I don't see a middle ground here.

    You simply can't apply your morals and values to someone lacking them. If he is not the actual thief, he at a very minimum knows he sold the bike. And he knows he registered it. And he knows he has it and has been riding it. So you know he is not honorable.

    What do dishonest people do when threatened? They cover their asses well, good and proper. And you know this to be true.
    ZRXOA 8377
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  17. #17
    BadAss Hooligan
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    Quote Originally Posted by bossracer View Post
    If you tip your hand to the thief/seller, that bike will disappear forever.

    Sorry to be Debbie downer on this. If you want the bike, do not engage with him. I can not say that more clearly.

    Formulate a plan that ends with you taking the bike from his house under the supervision of the local cops. The path doesn't matter. But the end matters all.

    If you don't care, then let it go. I don't see a middle ground here.

    You simply can't apply your morals and values to someone lacking them. If he is not the actual thief, he at a very minimum knows he sold the bike. And he knows he registered it. And he knows he has it and has been riding it. So you know he is not honorable.

    What do dishonest people do when threatened? They cover their asses well, good and proper. And you know this to be true.
    Spot on.
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  18. #18
    BadAss Hooligan
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    ^^i agree with bossracer. If he knows he did something wrong he will try and cover his tracks. I think you should drive over to his house with a pick up truck, ramps and tie down straps and meet him in a most uncontroversial manner and politely explain the situation. The reason I suggested the friends is because he will think twice about getting tough with you. Instead of an FU it will be an "I'm sorry but I lost your contact info". I've seen it work before. The distance is a PITA. If he were close by you could snap a pic or two with him with the bike in his possession. And if you do get it from you make sure you get a bill of sale at that time as the bike is registered in his name.
    This is a very strange situation. Good luck and keep us posted.
    "Enjoy your body, use it in every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or care what other people think of it... It is the greatest instrument you will ever own". Baz Luhrmann

  19. #19
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    Bossracer, RT77418, no worries, your comments were what my first instincts were saying. Trapped rats act like rats. "IF", and only if local law sees this as my bike and supports reclaiming the bike then it will be the route to go by. But, with only title and not having properly registering the bike and also not possessing the bike, I'm getting the sense that I don't have a leg to stand on.

    So plan would be (best to worst financial view):

    1) Reclaim bike with proper legal support. This means firming up whether or not I have legal means to reclaim the bike with only the original title. I'm expecting that he probably has not applied for a duplicate title, but since I never registered the bike, it was easy enough for him to keep re-registering the bike (I think every 5 years for dirt in CA?). So the question will be does, title trump registered owner and bike in hand?

    2) Contact seller in a safe manner (aka Hail Mary pass). Open it up to good karma and see where it goes. Letter to his home and business address. Fully acknowledging that probably means the bike is going to vanish once and for all...

    3) Walk away.
    '00 ZRX1100 Green
    '76 KZ900 Green
    '75 CB400F Red
    '75 CB400F Red port to 458

  20. #20
    BadAss Hooligan
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    In Massachusettes a signed and dated Title is proof of ownership. His Title is bound to have been dated after yours. i think that is all you need. The cop may have been wrong initially by telling you that you could not file a stolen vehicle report, probably because you couldn't supply a license plate number.
    "Enjoy your body, use it in every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or care what other people think of it... It is the greatest instrument you will ever own". Baz Luhrmann

  21. #21
    BadAss Hooligan
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    If PO has the bike and has a title numbered highter then your's
    he stole the bike and applyed for a lost title and your signed lower number trumps his.

    Call the cops and go get your bike and have his ass busted.

  22. #22
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    Unleavened Cracker

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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    When you go to his place, do not forget to check for your air compressor.

  23. #23
    BadAss Hooligan
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    The fact that he waited until 2011 to register it sounds like he was waiting it out to be safe.
    I would go down to the police records department (in the town you reported it stolen) and try to get a printed copy of your logged phone call.
    Even though they refused to file a report back then, they should still have a record of you calling and what they were responding to: Stolen Motorcycle
    Then, with that in hand, I would contact HIS local PD and plead your case. At least you would have record of attempting to report it stolen. That, and a bill of sale, with signed over title, may go a long way.
    There is NO WAY that I would just shrug it off. He's a scumbag Thief!
    Good luck!

  24. #24
    BadAss Hooligan
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    If that doesn't work, most lawyers will type out a "threat of lawsuit" letter for about $50 (Turn over motorcycle immediately, or this-this-and-this will happen).
    If this piece of garbage is like most criminals, he doesn't have two nickels to rub together. Chances are decent that he may just give the bike up to avoid legal fees, getting sued, getting a subpoena, etc...

  25. #25
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    OK so I'm not giving up. Consulted a lawyer on CA Bar...

    Explained the situation and here's where we are at:

    ..."Primarily you would sue the owner for your money back or the MC. He knew how to get in touch with you so, he ripped you off! If you want to start with a strong letter first and I can help you plan out your case you can write me at XXX"

    I balked at the strong letter, raising concerns expressed here earlier about him just ditching the bike, lawyer response follows:

    ..."It doesn't matter if he still has the bike but that he had it since the time it was stolen. In court you could ask for either the bike or money but at this point the money plus interest is worth more than the bike after these years. You think he couldn't have found you through the camper you sold him?..."

    So let's see, I'll be off to DMV in the next few days to be 100% certain that the bike was registered in his name again. Looks to be from my chat at AAA and the fact that my own paid online records search shows a registration event listed as a very small town in CA where he lived when we did the deal in 2004 and still lives in 2015...
    '00 ZRX1100 Green
    '76 KZ900 Green
    '75 CB400F Red
    '75 CB400F Red port to 458

  26. #26
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    Quote Originally Posted by the-atc-kid View Post
    If that doesn't work, most lawyers will type out a "threat of lawsuit" letter for about $50 (Turn over motorcycle immediately, or this-this-and-this will happen).
    If this piece of garbage is like most criminals, he doesn't have two nickels to rub together. Chances are decent that he may just give the bike up to avoid legal fees, getting sued, getting a subpoena, etc...
    Thanks the-atc-kid...were you monitoring my phone calls, uncanny, just ended a dialogue on pretty much what you wrote. This is all new to me...

    Here's the rub, pun intended...this guy seemed standup and he is a homeowner, and has a small business that has expanded since I met him in 2004. So it doesn't completely add up to me, which leads me back to opportunist, bike was recovered, police see him in DMV as reg owner, I'm not actively pursuing it...maybe? It's still wrong.
    '00 ZRX1100 Green
    '76 KZ900 Green
    '75 CB400F Red
    '75 CB400F Red port to 458

  27. #27
    BadAss Hooligan
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    As part of my work I arrange the sale of old trucks in many different states. For various reasons several of them have had duplicate titles issued.

    In every case the most recent title is the legal one.

    So let's say your guy is a 'bad guy'. You show the old title, he says wow, that's the one I lost, (which is why I got a new one), and that's the best forgery of my signature I've seen yet.

    Do you have any paperwork at all relating to the deal ? It might make things a lot easier to go the legal route.
    Slowing down Harley riders for 35 years

  28. #28
    BadAss Hooligan
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    Quote Originally Posted by bikeymikey View Post
    .....So it doesn't completely add up to me, which leads me back to opportunist, bike was recovered, police see him in DMV as reg owner, I'm not actively pursuing it...maybe? It's still wrong.....
    In this case opportunist equals thief!!! If you do have to take legal action, don't forget your expenses in pursuing the matter. Try to recoup you $ expenses plus time spent.

    Good Luck
    Big Harry

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  29. #29
    BadAss Hooligan
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    You might want the money it was worth at the time of the sale rather than the bike itself if the old adage "ride it like you stole it" applies.
    I disagree that the most recent title trumps the older one if the PO has signed it over to you. Otherwise, all you would have to do is steal a vehicle and apply for a new title.
    "Enjoy your body, use it in every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or care what other people think of it... It is the greatest instrument you will ever own". Baz Luhrmann

  30. #30
    BadAss Hooligan
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    Re: Theft Recovery Advice: 11yr stolen bike shows registered CA DMV

    Not to worry about the title. You said he signed it over to you. If he claims it was forged, its not a big deal. Any decent legal firm has a handwriting expert on retainer. It could easily be proved that its his signature and not yours.

    You sound like a decent guy bro, but what's wrong is wrong. All of us have the "opportunity" to be an "opportunist" every day... The lady at the cash register turns away for a minute with the cash register open. Yeah, you COULD grab a $20 or two, but you DON'T because you're a good human being with morals.

    I say that you HAVE TO go after this guy. Simple as that. Good luck, brother!


 

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