Sturgis Rally: Motorcycle-Stealing Family Busted; G. Gordon Liddy Day Canceled

Sturgis hasn't officially started, but a steady stream of motorcycles is coming to town. And the fun has started. The local cops had some good news, and the Governor got embarrassed. **By _ Art Friedman.

An alleged family team of motorcycle thieves has been arrested at the annual Sturgis Rally in connection with the theft of four motorcycles. Evidence indicates that they could have been involved in previous thefts at other big events, such as Daytona.

A 54-year-old Pennsylvania man, his wife, and their adult son were arrested after an alert security guard detained the father on Monday as he tried to ride away with a customer's Harley-Davidson Road King from a Harley dealership in Rapid City, South Dakota. The man claimed that it was just a mix-up, that he thought that the bike belonged to someone else, who had asked him to move it. The fact that the ignition lock had been broken made police doubt the man's story.

The man's arrest led the cops to the wife, who like her husband was illegally carrying a gun, and eventually to three more stolen bikes, additional weapons, and evidence of other motorcycle thefts. The son showed up during the investigation on a bike with stolen components and was hauled in too. The stolen bikes were valued at more than $80,000. Some motorcycle components were reportedly discovered that came from theft in Daytona Beach.

The trio could face as much as 25 years in the slammer, which we think is a good start. One industry spokesman thought they should be let go -- on Main Street in Sturgis, after announcing who they are.

The ongoing investigation is being conducted by the national Motorcycle Theft Task Force, made up of motorcycle-theft experts from various jurisdictions around the country and representatives of insurers.

It has long been apparent that professional motorcycle thieves attend major events to steal bikes, perhaps to fill buyer orders for specific machines. Authorities in Daytona have found semi trailers of stolen motorcycles, for example. Thefts at other events, even just weekend motorcycle shows, have often been numerous. In many cases, it has appeared that the thefts were conducted by groups of professional thieves acting in concert. Speculation among motorcyclists is that this family is such a group and may have stolen hundreds of motorcycles in the past.

Thanks to all the folks who help catch motorcycle thieves.

A detained account of the arrest can be read at the Rapid City Journal site.

Gordon Liddy Day Scrubbed

Friday at the Stugis Rally was supposed to be proclaimed as "G. Gordon Liddy Day." Liddy attained fame as one of the conspirators in the Watergate break-in in 1972, which led eventually to the resignation of then-President Richard Nixon in 1974. Liddy was convicted and incarcerated for over four years.

Liddy, now 72, rode his 2003 Harley to Sturgis this year, and South Dakota's Governor Mike Rounds was scheduled to proclaim Friday, August 7, as Liddy's day in the state. Then another politician pointed out that in 1994 Liddy had given suggestions on how to shoot at federal agents (head shots to avoid the bulletproof vests), and a storm developed. The proclamation was rescinded and the governor said it was a mistake, that it was rubber-stamped by an unnamed staffer and that he never actually signed it. Liddy is doing a daily radio show and autograph signings at the event. The Governor is doing damage-control.

Crowds Smaller?

Many counts see a smaller crowd than this time last year while other anticipate a bigger crowd. By the final official day of the Rally, we had heard of three fatalities and about 20 injury motorcycle accidents associated with the rally. One of the fatalities was a female pedestrian who was struck by a motorcyclist, who also died. Police say there are fewer reported injuries than previous years. There has been a slight increase in bookings at the local jail, and police say they have cited more people. Motorcycle stunt man Robbie Knievel reportedly got his second DUI citation in as many years at the event.

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A family of alleged motorcycle thieves will be getting new jewelry.
Capturing an alleged thief as he tried to steal a Road King led to the arrest of the rest of his family.