Imbituba, Brazil
28° 14' S 48° 40' W
Oct 21, 2007 20:31
Distance 74km

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Text written in: English

My bike is stolen!

After the new battery was fitted to my bike it was time to move on and continue south.  The same afternoon that my bike was repaired I went for haircut. It was the fastest haircut in my life! In 15 minutes my hair was washed, cut (badly!) and dried! The guy cut my hair in 5 wacks of the scissors, cutting above his fingers while talking to and looking at another client (!). In 2 more wacks of his scissors my fringe was back! No need to tell you my hair was a mess. I was speechless! Back at the Pousada, I spent some time trying to repair the damage with my nails scissors! 

The following day, Sunday, we rode the 120 kms to the sleepy town of Imbituba. The town is worth a visit because this is the best place for whale watching in the whole Brazil. Whales come here to give birth and nurse their babies.

That same afternoon we went on a boat trip and saw plenty of whales. The guy from the Tourist office, who ran the boat trip, Julius Cesar (!), learning we were motorcycling around South America, took a shine to us. He had been doing a similar trip 20 years earlier. He gave us his card and invited us to visit Laguna where he lived. Around Laguna there are dolphins that help the fishermen by pushing the fish toward the fishermen. The dolphins are wild so it is a very rare behaviour. We wanted to see this! Unfortunately, when we woke up on Monday morning it was pouring with rain and we decided to delay to the next morning. The bikes where nicely parked deep inside the patio of the Pousada, in a covered area. No one could them from the road. We didn’t chain them, just put the steering locks on as it was such a safe peaceful little town (and completely deserted)!

The next day when we woke up my bike was gone!  We were in shock! We asked the owner of the Pousada, who was speechless. He told us in 37 years of business he never had anything stolen from his property, not even a bicycle! Well there is always a first time, and it was with our bike! We just couldn’t believe it! F650s are very rare here, maybe 100 or 200 in the entire country! Therefore too conspicuous for a thief to sell and no spare parts market.  He wouldn’t be able to ride it as the police control all roads! So what was the point of stealing it? The owner of the Pousada drove us to the police station to report the theft. Despite the language barrier we managed and the police were really good and friendly to us. The other big problem was that in the top box of my bike were all the important documents for BOTH bikes, like the temporary import document issued by customs when the bikes enter the country and required to leave the country, my driving license, my international driving license (which is required for Argentina) etc.  It was an absolute disaster!!! We would have difficulty leaving Brazil even on one bike without these documents. Also some of our camping gear was in a roll bag, secured to the bike with a Packsafe metal mesh.

Leaving the police station, where the station commander was already out investigating the case in his car, we went for a coffee. There we decided on an action plan. We decided to phone some local papers to get some publicity that may help recover the bike. Phoning got us nowhere, no one spoke English or Spanish! We decided to email them. At the same time I put a post on Horizon Unlimited forums to ask for help to the local Brazilian community and sent emails to the 3 nearest motorcycle communities of Porto Alegre, Florianopolis and Sao Paulo, describing my bike and where it was stolen.

One local newspaper was interested in our story and I gave them a phone interview and sent them some photos. The next day our photo was on the front page of the paper, but most importantly, a picture of my bike was taking up half a page! Success!

The most impressive thing though, was the response of the motorcycles clubs in Brazil. Within hours of sending my email, it had been circulated all around the country and as far as the border town of Ciudad del Este, in Paraguay, where the local club there was watching the border in case the thief tried to cross with it! I received many emails of support, offer of help etc… from many parts of Brazil. It was truly amazing how an entire biking community was suddenly in alert, on the look out for my bike! 

The next day the police told us they had a sighting of the bike.  The Policia Militar had seen someone pushing a big bike 100km south of Imbituba. They were 90% sure it was my bike.  Due to a problem of translation we thought they had found the bike, so went to bed relatively happy that night.  The truth came out the next morning and we started to despair and we were very depressed. After 2 days I though the chances of finding the bike where very slim.  We started to make plans in case the bike was not found, i.e.  ditching lots of stuff and riding 2 up on the Dakar, or maybe trying to buy a bike in Argentina….

The following morning at 7:30am, the owner of the Pousada woke us up. The police were on the phone, they had found the bike. It was in Sombrio, 150km south of Imbituba! The police had arrested the thief, riding my bike at 7am! He was a well known delinquent in Sombrio. What we still don’t understand is what that guy was doing in Imbituba on a Monday night, in pouring rain, sniffing around our Pousada? The police and many people had asked us if we had been followed coming from Florianopolis. We didn’t notice anything but we think the theft must have been planned.  We were very happy! 

Anyway we went back to the police station for details and as we suspected the bike would be in no state to be ridden back, we contacted BMW of Porto Alegre to send a pick up truck to meet us the following morning at the police station of Sombrio and take the bike to their workshop. It was not cheap but we had no choice. The following morning, Friday, we rode to Sombrio and sorted out all the papers to release the bike. The police there were also incredibly friendly and helpful and we both got a ride in a police car!  We were finally able to check the bike. The damage was fairly minimal. The windshield was gone, we would need to replace the ignition / steering lock, one mirror had gone and so had the roll bag with all our camping stuff in it plus the pannier carriers were missing.  But on the plus side the thieving little toe-rag was very good at his job and hadn’t destroyed the wiring harness or any of the other locks and miraculously, the topbox was still there with ALL the documents inside. We just couldn’t believe our luck. As you may guess it was a huge relief! The camping gear was not recovered and the panniers rack was also gone but maybe it was time to get rid of my heavy aluminium panniers anyway as they were battered to hell, and buy some soft luggage instead.

Various local papers ran a feature on the recovered bike and even published the photo of the thief.  The police gave us a copy to keep so that we could see what he looked like. He was well known to the local police (and the local community we later found out) but had never been locked for his crimes so far as he was under-aged, but now he is over 18 and he is going to jail!  

So all ended relatively well. It is still going to cost us lots of money but a hell of a lot less than if we had never found the bike.   

On Saturday I took the bus with my 2 panniers, and Alistair rode to Porto Alegre carrying as much of our luggage as he could. My bus arrived 2 hours late, after breaking down then having a puncture and Alistair, waiting for me at the bus station was starting to get a bit worried, especially as they told him that the bus had been and gone already.  But we made it!

We are now staying at Richard Hewitt’s house. Richard contacted us when us when I sent an email to the motorcycle communities. He offered help and shelter and at that time we still didn’t know the state of the bike or if the documents had been retrieved and were feeling rather low so we gratefully accepted his kind offer.

We want to thank the Brazilian motorcycle community for their help during the last few days, their emails of support and for being on alert for my bike. As soon as my bike was found, the superb tool that is internet spread the news incredibly fast! We received even more emails of congratulations! We will reply to all the people who sent us an email in the next few days.   The police were also excellent too.

Photos / videos of "My bike is stolen! ":

Photo that appeared on the front of Diario do Sul The military police pay us a visit Recovered bike on its way to be repaired Whale watching off Imbituba Whale watching off Imbituba Whale watching off Imbituba Whale watching off Imbituba