TWO PART SERIES
It’s been 14 years since Batavia’s Michael Lullo reported his motorcycle stolen. In a two part series you will hear about the journey his 1969 BSA Rocket 3 took around the world to return back into the hands of its rightful owner.
In 1975, Michael Lullo was attending college in Albany when he purchased the 69’ BSA Rocket 3 motorcycle. A bike known around the cycling world as the first generation “super bike” or what we call today a “crotch rocket”.
“The one thing that’s most noticeable is the exhaust pipes; they don’t call them exhaust pipes in the British market they call them silencers, and they have these three little pipes that stick out the back of the silencers and the styling was come to be known as flash Gordon ray gun, Flash Gordon was a super hero of sorts,” said Lullo.
Around 1980, after college, Lullo moved back to Batavia and continued to enjoy riding the bike, but it ended up having engine problems.
“As things go never got around to actually making the repairs to get it road worthy again. So it was mothballs it was mothballs in the basement of an apartment building that I own, I would call it a semi secure storage area, but tenants weren’t allowed to have anything there, they had access because they have to have access to their electric heaters and gas meters, the longer short of it is, it came up missing,” said Lullo.
Lullo worked for years trying to find the bike on his own, but he kept coming to a dead end. There was rumor that one of his ex-tenants sold the bike without permission. It wasn’t until 2002 when Lullo reported the bike stolen.
“For years I have goose necked going down roads, you know I drive by a motorcycle for sale and man my head whips around and I’m trying to identify it because there are some particular characteristics of this style and model of motorcycle that is unique”, Said Lullo.
Flash forward to March of 2012, police still didn’t have any leads and Lullo thought he would never see the bike again when a customer from Oakfield came into his insurance agency and he was given a glimpse of hope.
“And one thing led to another and he came out with the statement I just sold one of those back in November now he had had it for 12 to 14 Years," said Lullo.
The customer told Lullo he purchased the bike from a guy for $150 back in 1998. That’s when Lullo contacted the Batavia Police Detective Partrick Corona with the new lead.
“I interviewed the person that Mike had talked to and it sounds like he had reason to believe that it was stolen, but he of course the owner had the motorcycle shortly talking to mike he has sold the motorcycle to an individual in Fayetteville in the Syracuse area so we pursued that," Corona said.
“ He in turn sold it over eBay to a person in England and when I finally got a hold of the guy in the Syracuse area about his part of the transaction he said that it wasn’t his problem because he bought it and sold it in good faith and don’t bother me," said Lullo.
Those words didn’t sit well for Michael Lullo who has been waiting so long get his motorcycle back that’s when he turned to Detective Corona for more help.
“I worked with eBay and I was able to secure records from eBay and we found out from the eBay name of the person that had purchased the motorcycle and then we were able to find out the name behind that username and where in England this person lived we contacted the local authorities in England and they paid him a visit," said Corona.
After Lullo heard that the Cheshire Police in England found the man who had his bike he was worried that it was used it for parts.
"Being of the age and vintage this is you could break it down and sell the transmission gears you could sell the fuel tank you could sell the seat you could sell the wheels you could sell the headlights and instrumentation and get more by parting it out than you could get for the whole unit," said Lullo.
But, as it turns out the man, Mr. Thompson as he’s been called actually restored the bike back to its full potential plus more.
"He has a lot of money, Mr. Thompson has a lot of money into this paint, engine work and he’s gone far beyond what I would have been able to do," said Lullo.
Lullo said he’s going to compensate Mr. Thompson for some of his work. So the two struck a deal, Lullo was set to get his bike back. Until…
"Turns out that the person in England when he did have it shipped there it was shipped as parts as apposed to a motorcycle. Customs requirements are that if you ship a motorcycle you have to do a verified identification clearance that didn’t happen," said Lullo.
According to customs records the bike never left the Country. The only way that he could prove the bike was his and bring it home to Batavia was the vehicle I.D. number, but he didn’t have it.
"It’s typical for a rider to keep the registration and insurance cards in the tool box or under the seat and that’s where the stuff was," said Lullo.
Just when Lullo thought he was going to give up he took a look in the basement of the apartment building where the bike was stolen and found a missing puzzle piece.
"The side panel with the custom colored paint job was absolutely the identifying characteristic, without that I would be a lot less secure in being able to identify the motorcycle," said Lullo.
It’s official Lullo was really going to get his bike back. He expects to pick it up from the shipper soon, but with all he’s been through Lullo is always skeptical.
"Not until I’m sitting in the seat will I be 100% sure," said Lullo.