Motorcycle theft rises with warmer weather

FRESNO, Calif.

As with cars the theft can happen in less than a minute.

A Fresno college student, whose motorcycle was stolen, recovered the bike Thursday. Investigators said the thief attached a new ignition switch to the bike and then drove away with it.

Danny Ortiz's white sportbike was stolen Friday. "It's like one of those things… your heart just drops," he said.

The motorcycle was taken from an apartment parking lot in Northeast Fresno. Danny bought the bike last year. A full-time radiology student at Fresno City College, Danny said, the bike saves him on the cost of gas.

The two-wheeler was found Thursday by an undercover CHP officer. He spotted the stolen motorcycle on his way into work. Then he followed the sportbike and driver to this apartment in East Central Fresno.

"Shortly thereafter, the driver returned to it, accompanied by another person," said CHP Sgt. Lenny Scherman. "Contact was made with those individuals, the driver was arrested."

A second stolen bike was later found and connected the same suspect.

"When the officer called me and told me they had it, I was excited. Like, oh man, that's good news," Danny said.

"The ignition systems on a lot of these sportbikes are pretty simple," Sgt. Scherman said. "They can be gone with your bike in less than a minute."

According to CHP, crooks can re-wire or install brand new ignitions in that short time. Danny said that's what happened to his custom motorcycle. "I didn't even know you could do that with a bike."

With more of these bikes on the road now the CHP said crooks are looking to put them on the black market to sell for spare parts.

There are anti-theft tactics to protect motorcycles, like kill switches and heavy-duty chains. But the CHP said it's best to store the bike in a garage. Some people even store them inside their homes.

A second arrest was made during Thursday's bust. The man who was with the auto-theft suspect was arrested for possession of meth.

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