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Motorcycle taken in McGrath burglary still missing
By: JOHN HALL - Staff Writer

MURRIETA ---- A one-of-a-kind, fully restored championship motorcycle belonging to legendary local rider Jeremy McGrath is still missing after being taken during a massive burglary several months ago.

Murrieta police, as well as McGrath's family, hope someone has seen the stolen bike ---- in some form ---- and will help detectives get it back.

Anyone with information is asked to call Murrieta police Detective Kelly Sik at (951) 461-6375.

"This was more precious to us than any of (his other bikes)," McGrath's father, Jack, said Thursday. "They stole a piece of history; certainly a piece of our family's history."

The bike, a 1992 Honda 125cc Peak Performance model, was the one McGrath rode to a SuperCross championship, his father said.

"This wasn't a replica," Jack McGrath, 58, added.

Jack McGrath had personally restored that bike to prime condition with plans to ultimately place it in a museum. Another bike, the first one his son rode to a championship, is on display at the Troy Lee Museum in Corona, Jack McGrath said.

But plans to continue memorializing Jeremy McGrath's racing history with the 1992 bike were halted when a home and garage belonging to the McGraths on Antelope Road in a rural part of Murrieta was burglarized in early June. Since the break-in, the McGraths no longer store any property there.

Three men were subsequently arrested and have each pleaded guilty on Aug. 29 to charges related to the crime.

Randy Sciarra, 42, of Menifee, pleaded guilty to burglary and receiving stolen property and is scheduled to be sentenced to four years in state prison next month, according to Superior Court records.

Michael Mauger, 32, of Hemet, was sentenced to one year in county jail and three years' probation after pleading guilty to burglary, records state.

Billy Riley Palmer, 28, of Homeland, pleaded guilty to vehicle theft, receiving stolen property and possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to 180 days in jail and three years' probation, court records state.

Sik said Sciarra, a parolee, was looking for a room or garage to rent when he came upon the McGrath property June 3. Sciarra apparently didn't know it belonged to the McGraths when he and two other men decided to break in and steal items from the home and the garage, Sik said.

The thieves came back several times, taking items including motorcycles, quad runners, handguns, tools, clothing, motorcycle helmets and a large plasma television.

Jack McGrath was renting the home to professional snowboarder, X Games gold medalist and ESPY winner Shaun Palmer. The McGraths had numerous personal and professional items stored in the garage.

Jack McGrath called the home his family's "homestead." His grandparents ---- Jeremy's great-grandparents ---- first lived there in the early 1920s, he said.

Jeremy McGrath, now 34, learned to ride there and the property included a full motocross track until just a few years ago. Jeremy McGrath started riding a BMX bike there when he was 8, his father said.

Eight years later, he became a professional rider and won his first championship at 18, Jack McGrath said of his son.

Many of the items taken in the burglary were things custom designed for Jeremy McGrath, including clothing and helmets, his father said. Much of what was stolen are things the family says don't have a monetary value placed on them ----- such as original racing banners and memorabilia.

Jack McGrath said his son has a better attitude about the crime than he does.

"He's good at letting things roll off of him," his father said. "It's a lot easier for him to move on.

"I'm still angry when I think about it," he added.

Personal items belonging to Shaun Palmer and his girlfriend were among the estimated $200,000 worth of property taken, police and Jack McGrath said.

Palmer was out of town for several weeks around the time of the burglary, Sik said, which allowed the thieves to come and go undetected about a half-dozen times over several days.

Mauger decided to ride the restored 1992 Honda Peak Performance bike from the garage, but used straight gasoline he found inside to fuel the two-stroke motorcycle, Sik said.

He only made it about two miles before the engine on the championship bike seized up, Sik said. Mauger called Billy Palmer, who operated a chop shop on his Homeland property, and he came to pick up Mauger and the bike, the detective added.

The crime wasn't discovered until about 30 days later when a good Samaritan spotted a motorcycle helmet in a remote area of Homeland, Sik said. It was determined to be one of Jeremy McGrath's helmets.

Contact staff writer John Hall at (951) 676-4315, Ext. 2628, or [email protected].


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