Viral video helps Cobble Hill man track down stolen motorcycle
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Tuesday, September 11, 2018 6:48PM PDT
A Cobble Hill man harnessed the power of Facebook to help recover a stolen motorbike, but police are cautioning others from dispensing do-it-yourself justice.
Dustin Hofer's bike was snatched from his business Pride Motorsports, just off the Trans-Canada Highway in a highly visible location.
But that didn't deter thieves who on Sunday morning, clipped a lock on the premises and helped themselves to a motorcycle.
While most people would call the police, Hofer had other ideas.
"Reaching out to the police for me just wasn't an option," he said. "I thought that the power of social media would spread the word quickly."
Along with a public plea to help find the bike and surveillance video of the theft, Hofer offered $1,000 as a reward for its safe return.
As a bonus, he promised that if anyone brought in the thieves they'd get to keep the 2008 Honda CFR250R.
"Please don't hurt the guys," Hofer added in the video posted on Facebook Live.
That video ended up being shared more than 35,000 times on the social media site, and a day later, a tip came in from someone in Vancouver that the bike was on the mid-island.
"So we decided to go for a little road trip up to Nanaimo," he said.
Hofer and two of his friends followed the lead to a property and again turned to Facebook to document the ordeal.
In the video, Hofer's friends approach another group under the pretense of buying the stolen bike when he yells at them.
"You guys are on camera! You guys are selling stolen property! The police are on their way right now," he shouts.
With that, the people trying to sell the bike ran the other way and Hofer's group had the stolen bike back in their possession, celebrating after doling out what they called "a little bit of vigilante justice."
While it worked out for Hofer, Nanaimo RCMP say the group risked their safety by not calling them in sooner.
"In this particular case it worked out well. The only thing they should've done is not gone on the property and called us," said RCMP spokesman Const. Gary O'Brien. "So it could've turned out bad."
Hofer admits things could've went sideways, but said if it happened again, he wouldn't change his methods.
As for the reward, the tipster from Vancouver declined it – so Hofer donated the cash to the Warmland Homeless Shelter in the Cowichan Valley.