An Omaha man is eagerly awaiting the return of a 1953 Triumph motorcycle that was stolen from his backyard 46 years ago and found last week in Los Angeles.
“All these years I've told people about it and wondered what ever happened to it,” Donald R. DeVault said Tuesday. “Back then it was baby blue and it looked like a little toy chopper.”
The motorcycle, a Tiger T 100, was stolen in Omaha the night of Feb. 4, 1967, according to a report DeVault filed with Omaha police.
It was recovered last week by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in the Port of Los Angeles when agents checked the vehicle identification number against a list of stolen property.
Lou Koven, an investigator with the National Insurance Crime Bureau in Los Angeles, said the blue-and-black bike was being shipped to Yokohama, Japan, when officers checked the VIN and found it was stolen in Omaha.
The motorcycle, valued at $300 when it was stolen, is in prime condition and now valued at $9,000, Koven said.
DeVault, 73, was 26 when someone came into the fenced backyard of his then-home near 49th and Maple Streets and took the bike.
He had named the Triumph the “Li'l Blue Bitch” and intends to have the name repainted on the gas tank along with the postscript “46 Years Later.”
“I'm going to ask her, 'Where have you been?' I bet there's a lot stories she could tell me,” DeVault said. “I wish she could talk because a lot's happened in 46 years.”
DeVault said he owns two other motorcycles and still enjoys riding.
“After that bike was stolen, I started to ride Harleys,” he said. “I rode choppers and I built them back in the early '70s.”
The call from Koven so surprised DeVault that he didn't believe the motorcycle had been recovered until he talked to an Omaha police detective.
A friend in the trucking business is helping to arrange shipment of the bike back to Omaha.
“I didn't have a clue that I'd ever see that bike again,” DeVault said. “I told Lou Koven that if I ever see him, I will run up and hug him.”
The bike, which wasn't insured when it was stolen, was taken from a fenced backyard after the thief forced open a gate.