This is an amazing story.
We write about so many stories of cars stolen with a tragic ending, often the car never being found or it being involved in a police chase. That’s especially true this year, since 2020 has seen record car thefts, which includes motorcycles. While the loss of a vehicle can hurt, they are replaceable, although if the machine has sentimental value that’s something you can never get back. That was the case back in 2016 when someone swiped Miles McCarvel’s 1972 Harley-Davidson Aermacchi Sprint 350, a bike he’d had since he was 20 years-old. However, the vintage Harley mysteriously appeared, leaving everyone wondering what happened.
McCarvel, who lives in Missoula, Montana, said on October 13 he pulled up to his house after a long day of work and was shocked to see his red Aermacchi Sprint 350 leaning up against the garage. There was nobody around and with no security camera there’s no way of telling who left the motorcycle. Even more interesting, the bike was dropped off in the daylight hours, so the person who did it likely felt confident nobody was home during that time.
In his joy, McCarvel took to Facebook where he posted a photo of the bike leaning against his garage. It’s understandable why he’d be so happy, considering he likely thought he’d never see the Harley ever again.
Back in 2016 McCarvel was on the Yakima Indian Reservation teaching welding classes. While he was away from home, someone broke into his garage and took the bike. Obviously it was in no condition to ride, so the person either had to push it or load it into a vehicle or trailer.
But who took the motorcycle? Was it someone nearby who felt guilty after all this time? Was it a teenager who stashed it at the back of his parents’ garage, only for it to be uncovered later and subsequently returned?
The mystery goes further than just who took the Harley and if it was the same person who returned it. According to McCarvel, the motorcycle looks just like it did when it was swiped: the miles are exactly the same, the battery is still missing, and the tires were still flat.
Unlike cars, motorcycles are relatively easy to disassemble, which is why it’s often difficult to find a completely original vintage bike. People can use fairly basic tools to tear down a motorcycle in their garage. A thief could have broken down the Harley and sold the parts somehow, but that obviously didn’t happen. The question is why?
Even more interesting, other items were taken from McCarvel’s garage back in 2016. A neighbor found one of his guns in the alley behind his house, which is what originally tipped McCarvel off to the fact someone broke into his garage. Two of his guns turned up later: one at a pawn shop in Missoula and one during a gang sweep in California.
However, nothing else which was taken from the garage has been returned. So why did the thief drop off the motorcycle? Or was it not the thief?
McCarvel thinks someone living nearby took his Harley. That’s not a stretch since criminals tend to commit crimes near where they live. Break-ins like this are often a crime of opportunity. It’s possible the person who took the motorcycle believed it was far more valuable than it actually is, or they didn’t want to put in the work necessary to get it running. For now it’s all a big mystery, but McCarvel seems to be happy to have his beloved 1972 Harley-Davidson Aermacchi Sprint 350 back.