A Florida horse trainer is charged with felony grand theft auto after he allegedly stole a Yamaha motorbike from the International Palm Beach Equestrian Center, according to authorities.
What Andrew Barone and his accomplice didn’t know was the motorcycle was a bait vehicle. The blue and white 50cc Yamaha motorbike was sitting in the same spot for days, a common area between two tents. A bait or “hot car” is a vehicle used by law enforcement to capture car thieves or unknown criminals.
Barone, of Raven Ridge Farm, called 20-year-old Joseph Knowlton to pick up the scooter. The pair allegedly loaded it on Knowlton’s truck where they found it, near tent 19 on the horse show grounds.
Authorities were conducting surveillance and followed Knowlton’s loaded truck. When stopped, Knowlton allegedly told authorities the motorbike was going to his place for “service,” at Barone’s request. He said he didn’t know who owned the bike.
When interviewed by deputies, Barone denied the motorcycle needed service and told authorities a different story. Barone said he “figured he would hold it there [at Knowlton’s] until someone came forward about the bike” and cited its “safekeeping”. When asked, Barone admitted he did not notify security, put up fliers or ask around the horse show grounds in an attempt to find the owner, before taking the Yamaha.
Barone and Knowlton are charged with grand theft of an auto under $20,000.
Barone and his wife own and operate Raven Ridge Farm Inc., in Watertown, Minnesota and Raven Ridge Farm South in Wellington. The farm’s site states they are “dealers and trainers of fine quality hunters and jumpers”.
Barone is out on $3,000 bond. He is scheduled to be back in court next month.