Thieves Grab Harleys

Heading down the highway they don't look like typical crime victims, but Harley Davidson riders have become easy marks.

"There is somebody in this city, and we don't know who yet, and they've decided to pick San Antonio clean for Harley Davidsons," says Jim Staggenborg, president of the Harley Davidson owners group.

Seventy Harley's have been heisted in San Antonio since last year. The bike thieves have even been caught on tape.

Not all the potential
targets are sporting tattoos. Harley's have moved beyond Hell's Angels. Where you once found drug dealers, you now find pharmaceutical company sales reps like Gary Matney who paid $19,000 dollars for his Harley.

"Well worth itÂ… If I could figure out a way I'd have a second one," says Matney.

Those prices are making Harley's a hot target all over North America. Theft rings have hit Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Montreal and Columbus, Ohio.

"The supply of new motorcycles has not matched the demand for probably a good ten years," says Harley dealer Hal Gottsacker.

A Harley's value cannot be measured strictly in dollars. Harley's have become a top shelf status symbol as much mechanical jewelry as motorcycle. Owners who have lost a Harley say the thieves have robbed them of something no amount of insurance money could ever replace.

"That is my life," says Steve Batson, who's bike was stolen. "I'm not married. I'm single and that's my partner."

San Antonio's police department is aware of the problem.

"They will be caught. You can't go on and on and have that kind of luck," says police officer Willie Cantu.

Officers Willie Cantu and John Sharp are understand the problem well. They had their own personal Harleys stolen six weeks ago.

Despite the changing face of the Harley owner, when thoughts turn to justice, there is plenty of the traditional spirit to be found.

"If any of us that have had our bikes stolenÂ…if we could just get togetherÂ…just give us five minutes with these people," says Batson.

After all, the song didn't say born to be mild.

Reported By Jim Axelrod


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