Harleys taken from hotel parking lot while men slept

PERKINS TWP. One of the sad truths about Ohio Bike Week: You've had a very bad time if you rumbled i
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



One of the sad truths about Ohio Bike Week: You've had a very bad time if you rumbled into town on your Harley, but returned home in your son's car.

Just ask three Cleveland-area men who experienced as much this past weekend when thieves made off with their three Harley Davidsons, collectively valued at about $50,000.

"I can't even tell you how (upset) I am," said Wayne Baer, 40, of Northfield, Ohio.

Baer and two other Ohio men -- Salvatore Salupo, 54, of Richfield, and Richard Lomis, 62, of Brecksville -- were victim to some early morning thievery Sunday at Best Budget Inn on Milan Road.

The trio had been in town for Ohio Bike Week on Saturday when they chose to stay at Best Budget Inn after getting a bite to eat at Steak'n Shake on Milan Road, according to a Perkins police report.

They parked the motorcycles in the southeast portion of the parking lot: a 1997 Harley Davidson Softail, a 2000 Harley Davidson Softail and Lomis' 1994 limited-edition Harley Davidson Heritage Softail.

"To me, it was worth a fortune," Lomis said. "I've had that bike for 15 years."

Lomis said he, Baer and Salupo went into Budget Inn at about 1 a.m. after parking the bikes, then woke up at about 7 a.m. to discover the bikes missing.

The bikes' ignitions and handle bars weren't locked, according to the police report, though Baer said his bike was locked.

"There were two other bikes there, and they didn't touch those," Lomis said of the thieves.

Both Lomis and Baer said someone saw a group of four men sitting in a Pontiac Grand Prix in the parking lot of Best Budget Inn early Sunday.

"That's one to drive the car home, and three to drive the bikes home," Lomis said.

Baer told police the motorcycles must have been pushed away from the parking lot before being started, because he would have heard the bikes if they'd been fired up. The bikers and police discovered a set of tire tracks leading through grass behind the inn, presumably where someone had pushed the motorcycles.

But other bikers at hotels near Best Budget Inn said it scarcely matters if you lock the bike -- if someone wants the bikes, they'll find a way to steal them.

"I have an alarm that's very sensitive," said Ken Pleat, of Sandusky, who was at a Milan Road hotel on Sunday. "If somebody moves it, you'll hear it scream."

But Pleat and Pennsylvania resident Richard Borden both said it isn't impossible for a group of four strong men to steal away with a heavy motorcycle if given the chance. The thieves would only need two long, strong boards to stick through voids in the front and back of the bike, then hoist it and haul it off like it was an Egyptian pharaoh.

"You get four big guys, and they can do it," Pleat said, adding that he parks his bike in a well-lit area and checks on it frequently during the night.

An employee at Best Budget Inn said the inn isn't equipped with external surveillance cameras. Lomis said his son picked him and his fellow riders up and gave them a ride home on Sunday.

A motorcycle snatched from a parking lot near a Milan Road bar Sunday night was the fourth bike stolen since Ohio Bike Week kicked off -- and there's still almost a full week to go.

The stolen bikes weren't the only incidents that kept Perkins police busy this past weekend. Police reports show officers handled a fair share of incidents related to Ohio Bike Week or motorcyclists, including DUI's, reckless operation, helmet violations for young drivers and numerous traffic infractions.

The intersection of Strub Road and Columbus Avenue -- just a tire's squeal from the main Bike Week festivities at the county fairgrounds -- kept Perkins police busy early Saturday and early Sunday. They cited a handful of bikers for driving on a closed roadway -- Strub Road between Columbus Avenue and Milan Road is closed for construction -- DUIs and other offenses.