Facebook was right; police were wrong: Motorcycle was stolen

John Joyce
  • York City Police: Facebook comments suggesting the motorcycle David Telp Jr. died on was stolen were in fact correct.
  • Police say an error in the way the bike's VIN were taken down led to the error in proving the motorcycle was stolen.

Shortly after a Red Lion man was killed riding a motorcycle in York City over Labor Day weekend, Facebook was afire with comments that the bike had been stolen.

However, it appeared York City Police ended the debate last week when Chief Wes Kahley said, unequivocally: "The bike was not stolen."

Now, police officials are walking back those comments.

The motorcycle was, in fact, stolen, Lt. Troy Bankert said Monday.

Bankert said the mix-up came in the form of a clerical error when the motorcycle's vehicle identification number was copied down by a patrol officer. He said the VIN copied by the officer was "one digit off" and therefore returned no information as being reported stolen when checked.

York City Police Chief Wes Kahley,left, and Lt. Troy Bankert speak with the Editorial Board at the York Dispatch in West Manchester Township, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Police first refused to state whether 22-year-old David Telp Jr., who crashed Sept. 4 at the intersection of Prospect Street and Vander Avenue and later died at York Hospital, was part of a group of masked motorbike- and ATV-riding teens who have been harassing city residents. They then denied, contrary to numerous social-media comments suggesting otherwise, that the motorcycle was stolen.

City police have since corrected the VIN-number error and confirmed with the owner that the motorcycle was stolen.

Reports have been circulating around the city and through the York County 911 center that motorcycle riders with their faces covered by bandannas were riding up and down city streets playing chicken with and taunting other drivers.

A news release issued from the office of York City Mayor Kim Bracey on Aug. 25 stated the city would "not tolerate this reckless behavior," which threatens the safety and quality of life of city residents. The release also announced several arrests in the matter, but the names of those charged were withheld.

York City Police made arrests in 2016 after citizens complained of young men riding unlicensed dirt bikes and ATVs through York City and harassing citizens.

Kahley said the names were not released because the individuals charged were all juveniles.

He went on to say that Telp had been riding recklessly at the time of the crash and his death served as "tragic evidence" of what can happen with such behavior. He said he would not implicate Telp as being a member of any particular group, but he added that there are "several groups of people around the city taking part in this reckless action."

— Reach John Joyce at jjoyce2@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter @JohnJoyceYD.