Donald DeVault’s 1953 Triumph T100 Tiger as found at the Long Beach, Cal., customs complex.
Stolen motorcycles typically disappear for good. And even when they are recovered they’re usually trashed from a joy ride – “ride it like you stole it” was coined for a reason – or completely unridable after being dismembered for parts. And while every now and then a bike stolen years ago resurfaces, we’ve never heard of one getting returned to its owner in better condition than it left, but that’s exactly what happened to Donald DeVault’s 1953 Triumph Tiger 100, which was stolen from his back yard in Omaha, Neb., in 1967.
According to stories in the Los Angeles Times and the Omaha World-Herald, DeVault had only owned the bike for a year or two before it was stolen from his backyard. “All these years I’ve told people about it and wondered what ever happened to it,” said DeVault in the Omaha World-Herald article. “Back then it was baby blue and it looked like a little toy chopper.”
Donald DeVault with a photo of his 1953 Triumph T100 as it looks today, 46 years after it was stolen from his backyard in Omaha, Neb.
There’s no clue to where the bike’s been since its disappearance, but it’s been rebuilt and bobberized, with the front fender removed, a custom exhaust installed, non-stock seat and pillion, flat bars and a custom silver and black paint job with a stylized Tiger on the gas tank.
According to press reports, Lou Koven, an investigator with the National Insurance Crime Bureau in LA, checked the bike’s VIN as it was being readied for shipment to Japan and discovered it had been reported stolen in Omaha. According to the Omaha paper, DeVault was 26 when the bike was stolen. He’d named the Triumph “Li’l Blue Bitch” when he owned and says he’ll have the name repainted on the gas tank along with the postscript “46 Years Later.” Now 73 and still trim and fit, DeVault rides regularly, and we’re betting he’ll put some miles on the Triumph once he gets it back.
The bike is still being processed and is waiting to be shipped to Omaha; we hope to follow up with DeVault when his Triumph finally makes its way back to him, 46 years later. — Richard Backus