TAMPA — When the Iraq War veteran realized his customized motorcycle was stolen from outside his apartment last month, he wasn't sure what to feel.
"I came outside and stood at the door," Paul Rivera said. "I didn't know whether to be angry or sad. My first reaction was to call the police."
After a Hillsborough County sheriff's detective spotted the stolen motorcycle and the agency arrested two people Thursday, deputies and the Nam Knights Motorcycle Club returned the bike to him Friday.
Rivera, 27, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, served in Iraq in 2008 and 2009. He bought the bike in 2011 after returning from an Army peacekeeping mission to Egypt. Worth $10,000, it's the most expensive thing he owns, he said.
"I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel," Rivera said outside his apartment east of Tampa. "I'm grateful the people who did this are off the street."
One day last month, someone had followed Rivera to his Bonita Vista Way home and stolen his customized 2005 Honda CBR 600 motorcycle after he parked it in front of his apartment.
On Thursday, a detective spotted the stolen motorcycle being driven near Falkenburg Road and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and called for assistance. The detective followed the motorcycle until it pulled into the driveway at 9513 Six Mile Creek Road, which is east of the Florida State Fairgrounds.
Deputies with a police dog quickly surrounded the home.
Two residents came out, including one the detective had spotted on the motorcycle. Deputies searched the house after getting a warrant. They said they found drugs, three weapons and $20,000 in cash inside the home.
Nathan Bowyer, 24, was arrested on charges of grand theft of a motorcycle, petty theft, violating probation, trafficking in stolen property and delivery of a controlled substance.
The second resident, Cindy Dormany, 36, faces charges of armed trafficking of methamphetamines, possession of Xanax, hydrocodone, marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Both were being held in jail without bail.
Rivera inspected the recovered motorcycle after it was brought off a flatbed truck. The orange-and-red paint job and stickers were gone, replaced by black paint.
"It looks mechanically sound. It's not much to look at, though," he said. "It took years to build and a week to make it look like this."
The Nam Knights will fix Rivera's bike, which will mostly need cosmetic work, said Todd Harr, president of the group's Westside Chapter. "We're helping our own," he said, adding the club knows how much a motorcycle can mean. "We understand that kind of bond."
Rivera learned how to ride a motorcycle in the Army, he said.
"I love cars, but nothing really compares to being on a motorcycle," he said. "Riding it is one of the only true moments to be by yourself."
Contact Keeley Sheehan at email@example.com or (813) 226-3368. Follow @keeleymsheehan.