Common Tread

Stuff that doesn't suck: Scamming a scammer

Aug 10, 2016

Recently, someone tried taking Travis Holman's motorcycle. Travis showed the thief something he never expected to see: a single taillight shrinking in the distance.

Travis lives in Sacramento, California. He walked out of his house one morning with a 10 mm wrench in hand, looking to do some work on his project bike, a 1981 Honda C70 Passport. He’d bought the bike as a project for $100, and had been improving it as he went. He’d installed a seat from a C90 and an auxiliary fuel tank. But when he went outside that morning, it turned out the bike appeared to have grown legs overnight.

Rear 3/4
Sweet seat, Travis! Photo by Travis Holman.

“I was so mad, so violated.  I jumped on my longboard and rode around my neighborhood, hoping to see it sitting or some asshole pushing it. I even asked local vagrants if they had seen it. That was a huge waste of time. My bike was gone.”

For those of you wondering why he didn’t just call the boys in blue at this juncture, Travis says, “I didn't have a pink slip for the bike as it was a project. The police didn't care to help, so I decided to take matters into my own hands.”

In mid-June, a friend showed Holman a classified ad for a bike that bore a striking similarity to the one that was stolen from him. “Noticeable blemishes or my own shoddy handiwork stood out to me to let me know beyond the shadow of a doubt that this was my motorcycle!" he said.

“I contacted the seller, who had my motorcycle listed online for $700, which had been reduced to $500 the next time I checked the ad. I had to make a profile for the site, then I contacted the seller. I said I'd been looking for a bike just like that, and I had cash. We arranged to meet and ended up at a grocery store not far from where I live. I decided to take my GoPro camera, attached to a crummy old dirtbike helmet that I've had forever.

“I didn't see my motorcycle anywhere or any pickup trucks with a sweet-ass Honda in the back. A sketchy looking guy with buzzed hair, baggy clothes, and shades rolled up to me on a BMX. I asked him where the bike was and he said it was on the way. He then rode over to a Chevy Tahoe In the back I could see a bike covered in a moving mat. I could see the crappy mismatched paint that I had used to cover rust on the back fender before they even uncovered it.”

Bars & Speedo
It is kind of adorable. Who could steal something so cute? Photo by Travis Holman.

Travis went to test ride the bike, leaving his helmet behind as collateral. (He pocketed his GoPro, because he had no plans to come back for that helmet!) He rode up to the thieves, as if looking to make a deal, then suddenly made a break for it.

“I hopped onto the sidewalk and rode the wrong way down a one-way street. I zigged and zagged and took sidewalks, roads, and alleys until I made it to the gate that I had left propped open for myself. I rode the Honda in my front door and right into my living room to safety!”

Pretty badass, buddy. You got a spot next to me any old time you want to ride together.

(We’ll stick to the two-laners, of course.)