TAMPA — Late one night last week, someone followed Paul Rivera back to his apartment near Tampa, then made off with the disabled Iraq war veteran's $10,000 customized motorcycle.
Rivera, a single father who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, is hoping someone might help Hillsborough County deputies locate his bike.
"It would mean the world to me if it was recovered," he said.
Rivera, 27, bought the 2005 Honda CBR 600 for $5,000 right after returning home from an Army peacekeeping mission to Egypt in 2011. He slowly upgraded the bike's features, installing a new exhaust system, computer technology, handlebar grips and flashy stickers.
On June 18, he took the bike out for a spin. He pulled into the lot at River View Apartments about 9 p.m. and parked in front of his apartment at 7363 Bonita Vista Way. He went inside. When he came out at 11 p.m., it was gone.
Detectives told Rivera they found surveillance images of a car following the bike right before he parked, Rivera said. Since then, he has tried to spread the word to local bike shops and other business, hoping for its return.
The bike has colored stickers affixed to the side and frontsaying "Repsol," a Spanish oil company and co-sponsor of a successful MotoGP motorcycle racing team.
Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office at (813) 247-8200.
Dan Sullivan can be reached at [email protected]