It was over twenty years ago and it forever changed the way I deal with strangers when I sell a bike.
My neighbor was a nice elderly woman that never gave us any problems. Her grandson had been staying with her for a couple of weeks and we had talked on a few occasions. He seemed like a decent enough guy so when he inquired about a bike I had for sale I was eager to show it to him. He asked to take it for a test ride and I offered him the key.
About a half hour went by and I started wondering if he was having problems. I mean it was a high mileage Honda CX500. Anything could have gone wrong. Another half hour went by and I decided to talk to his grandmother and let her know what was going on. She said "you didn't give him the keys to a bike, did you? We just had a big fight and he said he was moving out."
Wonderful. I reported the bike stolen and figured I'd never see it again or the $500 I was asking. A few weeks went by and still nothing. Then one day the phone rings and its the cops from a county in the northern part of the state. It seems our test rider was involved in a high speed chase. Apparently he went straight through a T intersection and crashed the bike. I was told if I wanted the bike back I should bring a trailer.
I had considered just abandoning the bike. I certainly wasn't gonna stick any money into it just to resell it for a couple hundred bucks. The truth is I was curious so I hooked up the trailer and headed north.
I found the cop shop and right away things seemed weird. Two officers escorted me to the building that housed my bike and what I assumed were impounded vehicles. The bike was laying on the ground and smashed up pretty bad. I remember wondering how the driver was. Anyway, one of the officers positioned himself behind me and the other walked over to the bike, reached in the fairing storage pocket and pulled out a big plastic baggie. "Is this your weed?" he asked.
Really? Even if it was, what did he expect?
Ya, dude, I've been looking for that.
Come on. They just chased a guy on a bike he had stolen three weeks ago and they think thats my weed?
I wanted to say something smart like "No, I keep my weed in the other saddlebag" or something like that but I thought better of it and said, "No officer. I've never seen that before."
These guys were serious about setting me up. After a few uncomfortable moments and a lot of convincing on my part, it was decided that it probably wasn't my bag of weed. I learned the bike was full of drugs. They had removed them earlier but double checked for anything they may have missed. They then released me and the bike. I breathed a sigh of relief.
I salvaged a few parts off the bike and then took it to a buddies property where it would sit for years. I remember someone asking about it one day and I told him to take whatever he wanted. I figured that would be the last time I would hear about the bike and I was ok with that.
I was wrong. A few years later I received a check in the mail for $500. At first I didn't realize what it was for because I had forgotten the whole incident. It turns out our test rider did some time and was forced to pay restitution.
Lesson learned. Pick your own moral of this story:
A. If you want asking price for your bike, make sure the cops are present at the test ride crash site.
B. Don't base the decency of an individual on the sweetness of his grandmother.
C. Be careful of a friendly invite from a strange cop.