A rider who had competed in SuperCross races at Angel Stadium recently had his motorcycle stolen right from a tunnel as he watched other competitors.
Fortunately, there was a happy ending for Louisville, Kentucky's Michael Akaydin ... within 20 hours of the theft.
He'd come from the Bluegrass State a couple weeks before to train in the Lake Elsinore area for the Saturday night, Jan. 23, races in Anaheim.
Riding a KTM 450 SX-F motorcycle with No. 918, Akaydin came up just short of qualifying for the 450 main event. But being a fan of the sport, "I did what I pretty much always do, just throw the bike in the tunnel there," he told Racer X Online. "It’s kind of out of the way, but still right there with the ambulance, and the port-a-potty."
Akaydin went on to watch the other races but when he went to get his KTM racing bike, it was gone.
" I thought somebody was kind of joking with me at first," he said. "Still in the back of my mind like, it’s probably someone pulling a joke. I run back to the pit and the bike is not there. That’s when I freaked out. That’s what started the whole thing."
"The whole thing" refers to how social media lit up upon news of the theft via Akaydin's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. It was discovered someone using a press pass had taken the bike and put it on its side in the back of a white Ford-150. Someone spotted a truck fitting that description on the 5 freeway, about 45 minutes from the Big A, and snapped a photo of the license plate.
Police detectives would not be able to assist until the following Monday, so Akaydin got ahold of surveillance video from the stadium and, with a license plate number now known, he and a buddy were able to find out the truck's VIN number, registered owner and his address.
In Ventura County.
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They arrived at a remote property set back from roads the next day after the theft. Spying through binoculars from a distance, they saw the white truck drive up and the driver take out the motorcycle, put it in a shipping container on the property and drive away.
Deputies were called, the white truck was pulled over, and Stephen Robert Allen was arrested for suspected felony theft. He has bailed out pending court hearings in Ventura County. Akaydin said Allen, who is known in dirt-bike circles, "is kind of a California hillbilly."
"So basically he got in with a basic press pass, that I guess he had made up. I got a picture of that. I got a picture of his face at the SuperCross to kind of prove people that want to help out and kind of knew him and this and that. We had some good evidence after a while, and definitely the footage from the security camera. We had a decent case but without that license plate number I don’t know if we could have found him."
In other words, in his view, social media "for sure" was "the biggest help" in making possible what happened next with the KTM the Monday morning after the Saturday night theft: Akaydin riding his bike in Lake Elsinore to train for his next race.