Law enforcement officials are investigating the work of what is believed to be a motorcycle theft ring that struck the Huntsville area over the weekend.
Three motorcycles were taken from three different apartment complexes and a fourth was damaged sometime during the night of June 7 and the early morning hours of June 8.
"Since these cases were similar, we have reason to believe that they are connected. We usually see these kind of things happen when a group of thieves come up from the Houston area and strike in one night," said Lt. Jim Barnes with the Huntsville Police Department. "For some reason this group was targeting motorcycles, and they appear to know what they are doing."
The first motorcycle was reported stolen from University House Apartments in the 1300 block of Smither Drive. The owner noticed his 2008 black Honda CVR 600 was gone shortly before 6 a.m. on June 8. He last reported seeing the bike when he went to bed around 11:30 p.m. on June 7.
Around 6:30 a.m. on June 8 HPD was called to Gateway Apartments in the 5000 block of Sam Houston Avenue to investigate damage to another motorcycle. Someone had apparently tried to steal a 2002 Honda and had moved it behind a dumpster. The steering column and ignition was broken.
A third motorcycle was stolen from Brook Place Apartments, which is also located in the 5000 block of Sam Houston Avenue. The bike was recovered by the Walker County Sheriff's Office after it was abandoned on Interstate 45 South near the exit to Huntsville State Park.
"The victim actually received a call from a friend who told him he just saw a deputy with his bike on I-45," Barnes said. "It appears the thief was heading back to the Houston area when the motorcycle ran out of gas."
A fourth motorcycle, a 2002 Yamaha YZF-R1, was taken in the same time frame from the Summit Apartments in the 2300 block of Lake Road. As in the other cases, the owner went to bed and woke up the next morning to find his bike gone.
"This group targeted apartment complexes because the motorcycles are out in the open," Barnes said. "The best way to prevent something like this from happening is to chain and lock up the motorcycles at night. We just want to remind people that if they see anything suspicious to call us and we will check it out."
HPD has also seen a rise in vehicle burglaries recently. Barnes said people need to remember to lock their cars at all times and to not leave any valuables out in plain sight.
"Take your valuables inside with you or secure them in the trunk," Barnes said. "Thieves just walk around looking into vehicles and checking the locks. Don't make it easy for them and don't leave anything sitting out that would give them reason to break into your vehicle."