I like to think of motorcyclists as an often giving, caring, and compassionate lot. Sure all types of people ride motorcycles. But on average, it’s nice to think that people who ride are more about giving than taking. My beliefs were recently reinforced by an event that happened to a friend of mine, Bill Dragoo.
You may know about Bill from his adventure rider training school called D.A.R.T. (Dragoo Adventure Rider Training). To make a living, Bill travels the country and conducts hands-on classes to help adventure riders become better riders and hone their skills. And, he’s also a freelance moto journalist. He’s very, very good at what he does. But Bill’s school is not the focus of this story. It’s about a recent event and his reaction to the event that we should talk about.
Bill lives in Norman, Oklahoma. It’s a suburb of Oklahoma City, just outside of the crossroads of interstates 40 and 35 in middle America. Although Norman is a city with a population of about 120,000 people, it still retains much of its midwestern heritage. A place where people feel comfortable with themselves and in their homes.
About Bill Dragoo
Bill is one of those people. He renovated a beautiful rustic home complete with a barn and garage. From these hand-built places, he can maintain his machines and carry out the work of D.A.R.T.
As you can imagine, as the owner of D.A.R.T. (as well as being a moto journalist), Bill has lots of equipment. Equipment that many people would like to have. And that’s the root of this story.
Bill is trying not to let what happened affect his sense of security, safety, and belief in humankind. But he fears that it may have changed him somewhat.
The events that Bill experienced are rather unbelievable but true. But as the story is told, you’ll understand. Here goes…
The events unfold
At about 11:00 AM, Bill was preparing to take one of his bikes to be washed. He wanted the machine to look good. He and his wife Susan were about to leave on an assignment for a moto magazine. For his story, they would be taking Bill’s Harley to tour pavement and gravel in the U.S.A.
To get the Harley out of the garage, Bill had to move some of the garage’s contents outside. Ultimately, Bill moved his BMW R 1250 GS and his KTM 790 Adventure R into the driveway. With them out of the way, he was now able to free the Harley from its indoor captivity.
As he prepared to leave for the wash, he thought about the key in the KTM’s ignition. But he felt that it would only take a few minutes for him to get to the wash facility, wash the bike, and return home. It would be 15 – 20 minutes max until he returned home. So off to the wash he went leaving the bikes in the driveway.
Things get weird
And this is where the story gets weird. About 20 minutes after he had left, Bill returned to his home. In his driveway, with its trailer hitch tongue pointing in towards his house, was an old, dirty, and somewhat grungy pop-up camper and scooter.
Bill pulled into his driveway a little annoyed and thought, “Who parked that in my driveway? And for the next 30 seconds, he tried to divine why the rickety pop-up trailer was now taking up space on his property.
As he thought about it a little more, he began to think that someone must have had trouble and left the trailer there until they could get help. Perhaps the trailer had a flat, and someone just parked the trailer in his driveway to get it out of the street?
So he performed a quick walkaround of the trailer, and the tires were good. Then he thought maybe a wheel bearing had seized. That might explain it. But that seemed unlikely as well.
So as he looked around his driveway, he noticed that something was missing. In fact, multiple things were missing. Gone was his KTM 790 Adventure R, a KLIM Krios helmet with an attached Sena 30K, and a Mosko Moto tank bag. Still, he thought that perhaps someone needed to take his bike to get help.
It was only after going through all those scenarios, that Bill finally came to the conclusion that his bike and gear had been stolen and the pop-up trailer left in its stead. Now Bill needed to see if anything else was missing. And, something else certainly was missing. His Kendon motorcycle trailer was gone as well.
Police and witnesses
Bill then called the police and reported the thefts. The police responded quickly, took a report, and spoke to neighbors. It turns out that many different people had seen the suspect.
And the stories that go with those sightings are dumbfounding. Apparently, the thief arrived at Bill’s house in a stolen and tattered, rattle-can-painted Nissan pickup truck. Attached to the pickup was the equally rough-looking and also stolen pop-up camper.
It seems the thief saw the bikes in Bill’s driveway and pulled into Bill’s property. He decided he’d like to take the KTM 790 for a ride. So leaving both the pickup and trailer there, the thief hopped on Bill’s bike and rode off.
He’d gone only a few streets over from Bill’s house when he apparently decided he wanted more. He pulled over at the side of a road near another neighbor’s house. The neighbor asked him if he needed help and the thief said that he’d like to leave Bill’s bike there so he could go and get his truck to pick up the bike.
Thinking that the bike had broken down, the neighbor didn’t pay much attention to the thief and went about his business. At this point, both Bill’s stolen KTM and the thief are in front of a neighbor’s house, until the thief calmly walks away and…
Returns to Bill’s house.
Not done yet
When he took Bill’s bike, the thief likely also noticed that Bill was the owner of a Kendon trailer. But not for long. The thief unhooked the pickup from the pop-up camper, drove around to the back of Bill’s house, and hooked up Bill’s Kendon trailer.
But the thief wasn’t done yet. He hadn’t had all his fun on Bill’s KTM, so he the road where he was sighted once again. This time there is even a video of the thief in action.
Apparently, the thief decided that the 790 was a race bike. He pulled up next to a man in a “fast” car and asked to race. Little did the thief know that Bill’s bike had a bit of a fueling problem and that he also had little in the line of riding skills. When the light turned green, the two were off. And the winner was…
Beaten, the thief once again asked to race, and the car driver declined. Broken-hearted, the thief went about his way on Bill’s stolen machine.
But the police hadn’t given up. One police officer, Dustin Underhill, spent the remainder of his shift looking for Bill’s bike. And, while he didn’t find the two-wheeler, during his shift, he did find the stolen, rattle-can-painted pickup and Bill’s Kendon trailer.
It seems that the thief has ridden off into the distance with Bill’s bike. The chance of it being found are pretty low. Bill does have insurance, but he has a high deductible and may not be reimbursed for the other things besides the bike that was stolen.
If a story as unbelievable as this happened to me or many of us I think, we’d be extraordinarily angry. But Bill’s not that type of person. When I talked to him about the loss, Bill put most of it aside. Sure, he’d lose money because of the theft, but that really wasn’t what was bugging him.
What he was most concerned about was how he would feel about people going forward. You see, Bill is the type of person who spends a lot of time focusing on those less fortunate than he.
Bill welcomes homeless people to his home. He offers them work so they can earn money to survive. He’s also gone directly to homeless people on the street and given them food and helped them get to places of safety and shelter.
Bill’s viewpoint is that most of these types of people face an affliction. Some of the people that saw the suspect said he looked like he was under the influence of something.
Still, Bill’s first thought is that many of these people need help. He thinks about the number of resources we spend protecting ourselves from them. And he is concerned that this series of events may change his outlook on helping others.
It’s difficult not to let something like this change you. In Bill’s mind, he doesn’t want the thefts to create jaundice between people like himself and those who need help. He thinks it’s tough to draw the line between protecting yourself and taking the “risk” of helping others.
By the time we had completed our conversation, Bill had pretty much made up his mind not to let these events change him. He’s still willing to help those less fortunate than him. He said if there was one lesson in this for him (and others), it was to continue helping those who need it and not let it change your perception of the world.
Before we parted, Bill asked me for one thing. He wanted me to tell people that even in the difficult times we face in this COVID era, don’t let the bad things get you down. Remain compassionate. Keep believing in your fellow human beings and treat them as you would have them treat you. Reach out to those in need, and don’t shoo them away or barricade yourself inside a fortress.
Thanks to people like Bill Dragoo, my viewpoint of the world and our fellow human beings is refreshed. I hope his story of dealing with a crime against him also helps you feel the same way.