It took two years for an Iraq veteran to build his custom motorcycle to his liking, and only two weeks for thieves to destroy it.
But Paul Rivera is forever grateful to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and especially to the deputy who saw someone riding it Thursday.
"I still don't know how to feel about any of this," a speechless Rivera explained Friday while holding his 2-year-old daughter.
A deputy recognized the bike near Falkenburg Road, followed it to Six Mile Creek, and called for backup. The sheriff's office surrounded a home, then arrested Nathan Bowyer, 24, for theft.
Deputies later executed a search warrant of the property and found much more than Rivera's stolen motorcycle.
"Meth, marijuana, numerous narcotics, firearms, and about $20,000 in cash," Cpl. Buddy Rudolph explained.
Investigators also arrested Cindy Dormany, 36, for trafficking methamphetamine, possession of marijuana, xanax, hydrocodone, and drug paraphernalia.
"I hope they enjoyed their ride because they're gonna be seeing me in court," Rivera said.
Stepp's Towing delivered the bike back to Rivera's apartment complex Friday afternoon, flanked by several deputies and motorcycle riders from the Nam Knights.
The orange bike had been spray-painted black. Rudolph said motorcycle thieves typically change color immediately after taking them.
Rivera walked around his bike a few times, eyeing all of the damage.
"It's going to need a whole new body kit, and the seat's missing," Rivera observed.
Rivera suffers from PTSD and said working on his motorcycle is his release from reality.
"I've been a lot more on edge lately, and it gets to the point where you don't want to sleep," Rivera said.
Todd Harr, Nam Knights president, hopes to get Rivera back to doing what he loves.
His motorcycle group will help Rivera rebuild his bike.
"We're going to get the bike back to the way it was before," Harr said. "I'm sure we'll find a great bike shop and we'll help fund it. We're all veterans, we're all law enforcement, and we're taking care of one of our own -- especially on July 4."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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