A Cobble Hill man miffed that his motorbike was stolen took matters into his own hands and snatched it back from the thieves, a case of vigilante justice made possible by social media.
On Sunday, Dustin Hofer shared surveillance video of the white 2008 Honda CFR250R being stolen from his business, Pride Motorsports, in Mill Bay just off the Trans-Canada Highway. Two thieves had cut through a lock and walked the vehicle off the lot. One person was seen getting into an older model white sedan.
Hofer, a 33-year-old father of three, posted a video to Facebook saying he would offer a $1,000 reward for anyone who could help return the motorcycle, valued at $3,000.
He also promised that anyone who brought in the thieves would get to keep the motorcycle.
“We’re going to find these buggers,” he said in the video.
On Monday, Hofer was contacted by a Vancouver man who had been contacted by people trying to sell the bike. That led Hofer to an address in the Nanaimo area.
Hofer and two friends drove to the property and spotted the motorcycle.
His friends approached a group of people, under the guise of buying the bike.
They documented the entire ordeal on Facebook.
“You guys are on camera!” Hofer yells. “You guys are selling stolen property! The police are on their way right now.”
The people selling the bike ran the other way and Hofer’s friends loaded the bike onto the pickup truck.
“As long as people are safe, I’m a firm believer in vigilante justice,” Hofer told the Times Colonist. “Left to our own devices, we can make stuff happen.”
Hofer then called Nanaimo RCMP to report what happened.
While waiting for police to arrive, “the residents of the suspect home allowed several of the pit bulls out, which forced the owners in to the safety of their truck,” said Nanaimo RCMP spokesman Const. Gary O’Brien.
Police arrived and confirmed the bike found was in fact the one taken from the business.
Officers said the residents of the home are well-known to police, but police were unable to prove who took the bike and how long it had been on the property, O’Brien said. As a result, no charges were laid, which Hofer said is “unbelievable.”
O’Brien said while the outcome was good in this case, people should not take the law into their own hands. “This is certainly a great story, but the owners should have contacted the RCMP prior to driving on to the property,” O’Brien said. “The bike would still have been recovered and the possibility of violence would have been minimized.”
The Vancouver tipster declined the $1,000 reward, so Hofer donated to Warmland House emergency shelter.