TAMPA — Army veteran Paul Rivera said he was planning to sell his $10,000 customized motorcycle before it was stolen from outside his Tampa apartment on June 18. But he got it back. And he just might keep it forever.
"I'm never going to get rid of it now," Rivera said.
With the help of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and others, the Nam Knights Motorcycle Club, Westside Chapter, presented Rivera with his refurbished 2005 Honda CBR600 at the Veterans Memorial Park & Museum on Saturday.
After thieves stole the Honda, they painted the orange and red bike black. Parts were missing, and the body was damaged. Even the seat was missing.
"Of course, it's not their bike," said sheriff's Deputy Buddy Rudolph. "They stole it, so they don't take the best care of it."
After the motorcycle was recovered on July 3 and suspects arrested, deputies decided to get the Honda repaired for Rivera, who is a disabled Iraq War veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Rudolph called Deputy Travis Wright, a member of the Nam Knights and a Marine Corps veteran, and asked if something could be done. Indeed, it could.
The Nam Knights and other veterans organizations did some fundraising and collected more than $1,500. The Honda was completely rebuilt.
Rivera, 27, who left the military in 2005 after five years of service, said the motorcycle looks better than ever.
"I don't feel like there's any way to be grateful enough for what they've done for me," Rivera said. "I wish I had more to give back as a thank-you."
Contact William R. Levesque at email@example.com or (813) 226-3432.