Perusing the weird news on Facebook, I came across an item, the heading regarding a “Stolen Motorcycle” immediately pulling me in.
Evidently San Diego resident and motorcycle enthusiast, Lawrence Howard, had his cherished custom Triumph stolen while visiting friends last Sunday. Anyone who has ever had a motorcycle stolen knows that horrible sinking feeling of helplessness that comes from arriving at the spot where you parked your bike, only to find empty space.
So, imagine Howard’s and his friend’s surprise when, after calling police and then combing the Balboa Park area of San Diego, as they merged onto the freeway in a Toyota Camry – giving an obviously crestfallen Howard a ride home – who should they come upon but the bike in question.
“He came at us literally at the same time that we were merging onto the freeway,” Howard said. He and his friends then followed the thief east on highway 94. “I’d already lost it once – I didn’t want to have to lose it again,” reported Howard, recounting the incident. Howard phoned police to report their location while his friend, Matt Ellis, continued to tail the suspect.
“At that point, my adrenaline just shot up, because there’s no way in heck we’re going to let this guy out of our sight,” Ellis said, adding, “I’m also trying to look out the back window going, ‘please, please, please.’ I’m hoping these guys (the police) show up soon, because eventually, there’s no way I would have been able to stay with him.”
Police closed in on the suspect on Euclid Avenue. “As soon as they turned on their lights, he gassed it and took off,” said Howard. “It’s not every day that you get to be involved in a high-speed chase.”
The suspect, Mitchell Lautner, ditched the bike and bailed into a nearby apartment building where police found him hiding in the laundry room. Lautner is accused of stealing the motorcycle and evading police, as well several other felonies. Naturally, he pleaded not guilty this past Wednesday. Fortunately no one was hurt or killed during the crime and subsequent chase.
For all motorcycle owners and enthusiasts, we’re happy to report that Howard has his Triumph back in his possession. He and his friends are calling the police the heroes in this case. “They do their job, and they save you tens of thousands of bucks, protect you and put a bad guy in jail. That’s a special moment,” Ellis said.
So, chalk one up for the law and all of us motorcycle owners, that there is justice out there in the world, even if it does require a little serendipity.