Pasco man’s jeep trashed by thieves, restored by motorcycle group

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Bill Gebhardt, an elderly man who turned to 8 On Your Side’s ‘Better Call Behnken’ when his Jeep was stolen last month was reunited with his Jeep today, in better condition than he imagined.

The Jeep was returned to him last month after law enforcement found it abandoned and trashed. A motorcycle group, Bay Area Riders, saw our story and stepped up. They picked up the Jeep three weeks ago and returned it today. It’s now running again and had a full body shop and pain job, worth thousands of dollars. All the work was donated or paid for by the motorcycle group.

“We’re just so happy that Bill is happy,” said Richard Hitchcock, of Bay Area Riders. “This is all we wanted.”

Hitchcock, one of the group’s leaders, said he felt compelled to help, after watching our 8 On Your Side investigations into the ordeal of Bill Gebhardt. Gebhardt hired two young men to do yard work last month. And then the next day, their girlfriends showed up, offering to clean his home. He ended up with a stolen jeep, gun, lawn equipment and diamond ring.

After our 8 On Your Side story, one man was arrested by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and the jeep was found abandoned in Tarpon Springs, but it was trashed and would no longer run.

“I saw the news come on, and just the expression on his face, he looked devastated. and I wanted to show him, you can trust some people,” Hitchcock said. “I also wanted to show the community that bikers are good people We try to help the community.”

Gebhardt was overcome with emotion

“It’s gonna feel good, every time I start it, to know what all has happened, took place,” Gebhardt said. “That’s going to make it run good.”

Gebhardt had planned to sell the jeep after it came back home in disarray. It was going to cost too much money to fix it. But now, he has changed his mind. He’s so thankful for the help, and looking forward to driving in his red jeep again.

“I’m happy. Just to see Bill happy,” Hitchcock said. “That’s what matters. That’s what we were hoping for and, hopefully, we instill some trust back so he can trust others.

The Jeep was towed by E&C Customs Towing. Spooners Tire and Auto in Pinellas Park did the mechanical work and Greg Travis Auto Repair in Clearwater took care of the bodywork and paint job.

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