An Omahan's long wait for the return of a 1953 Triumph motorcycle came to an end Wednesday, nearly five decades after it was stolen from his backyard.
The motorcycle, a Tiger T 100, was returned from California via truck to Donald DeVault, 73, who got a good look at the bike for the first time in 46 years when it was delivered to McMullen Trucking in Carter Lake, Iowa.
“Well, I love it,'' DeVault said after spying the bike at a McMullen warehouse.
“Yeah, I think I'll put it in my living room,'' he said.
The bike 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, looks to be in good condition and is now valued at $9,000, Koven said.
“I'm looking for something recognizable,'' DeVault said as he sized up parts of the bike while climbing aboard it. “I may have to learn to ride it all over again.''
Moments later, he hugged Koven and said: “Thank you very much.''
DeVault 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.” He intends to have the name repainted on the gas tank along with the postscript “46 Years Later.”
DeVault said he owns two other motorcycles and still enjoys riding.
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 helped arrange shipment of the bike back to Omaha.