Tampa Bay area theft ring sold motorcycles nationwide

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Authorities in the Tampa Bay, Fla., area have broken an motorcycle theft ring and have been able to return several stolen bikes to owners who’d reported them missing over the last few years.

Andrew Graham, 24, has been keeping up the $300 a month payments for a 2008 Honda CBR600rr since it was stolen from his apartment complex in 2009. He had just a few payments left when his phantom bike was returned to him last week.

Detectives from the sheriff's auto theft section found 22 stolen bikes recently after an investigation into a stolen motorcycle in January led to a theft ring, Sgt. Rob Rodriguez told the St. Petersburg Times. They say those are less than half of the 50 stolen bikes linked to a group that was allegedly stealing motorcycles, filing off VIN numbers and selling them on craigslist and eBay. Some have been found as far away as California.

The thieves allegedly created counterfeit documents claiming the motorcycles were bought in Australia and shipped to Florida, then got titles from the Hillsborough County Tax Collector to make the bikes look legit.

So far, detectives have identified 50 stolen motorcycles that were sold as part of the theft ring and retrieved 22 of them. They estimate the total value of the stolen bikes at $350,000; the figure does not include sums paid by unsuspecting buyers.

Posted by Holly Wagner

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