OCALA, Fla. – A man has confessed to stealing a motorcycle that was left behind after a crash on State Road 200, saying the bike was “(his) way out of Florida,” police said Monday night.
Joseph Biernacki is now charged with the grand theft of a motor vehicle. He faces extradition for an outstanding warrant in New Jersey, the Ocala Police Department said in a news release.
Last week, Alton Manley told News 6 that his motorcycle was stolen after he was taken to a hospital following the wreck. Manley couldn’t believe that someone would steal his beloved blue 2016 Harley-Davidson while he was receiving medical care.
"It's not rideable. The key's not in it. It's locked. Who would steal a bike?” Manley said.
He was riding on SR 200 at about 40 mph during afternoon rush hour on March 12 when a car cut in front of him.
"It nipped my tire a little bit, and I got nervous and laid the bike down," Manley said. "My whole left side was road rash."
The turn sent the bike sliding down the road. Manley said that, with the help of people stopping for him, he was able to get the motorcycle into the median and call his mother for help. Within 15 minutes, she returned to the crash site with a trailer to find the bike was gone.
Fast-forward to Sunday and that’s when Ocala police received an anonymous tip. A man reported that a couple who had been living in a tent in the woods had the motorcycle. An officer caught up with the man and woman in question, the man being Biernacki, and learned of the outstanding warrant for his arrest, officers said.
At first, the couple denied knowing anything about the motorcycle, and claimed the bike was left by someone else and did not start. Once Biernacki was under arrest and interviewed by an Ocala detective, he confessed to stealing the motorcycle and advised he had added a switch to bypass the ignition. “It was our way out of Florida,” he said.
Biernacki said he saw the man leave the motorcycle in the median on SR 200 after the wreck, and “didn’t think he wanted it,” police said.
Biernacki told officers that he hid the motorcycle behind a restaurant, and about seven hours later, took it back to his camp.
The Harley has since been returned to Manley, police said.
Ocala police posted a video about the incident on the department’s Facebook page.