Stolen Motorcycle Provides An Important Lesson On The Fourth Amendment

Estimated read time 3 min read

Some auto news sites still think we need to “change the law.”

Having your vehicle stolen is a frustrating, even a violating experience, so we feel for a man in Chicago who had his Honda motorcycle stolen in the middle of July. The guy has an Apple AirTag on the bike and so thinks he knows exactly where it is, but police say they can’t get it back. Since it was profiled by NBC Chicago, Scott Woods’ story has been getting increasing attention among automotive enthusiast news sites, forums, etc. as people can’t believe police won’t help with its recovery.

A Texas man killed a suspect who allegedly stole his truck.

The story provides a great lesson in how the Fourth Amendment keeps police from just raiding your property because someone else says you have their stuff hidden there. In this instance, Woods’ AirTag pegs the location of the motorcycle about where a box truck is parked in an alleyway by a house, but it might be in the garage. When a police officer arrived, Woods says the guy stayed for only a few minutes, saying he couldn’t help get the bike back.

Different police departments have varying policies about things like this, but none of them can just then and there crack open the box truck even though your GPS tracker says your vehicle is inside. They need probable cause, like seeing the motorcycle out in plain sight even though it’s behind a fence, or to get a warrant to search the property. That said, some officers would knock on the door of the house and speak with the residents about the situation anyway. This one didn’t.

Some police departments would pursue a warrant based on the AirTag info, although a judge might not grant it. But apparently in Chicago won’t bother. Maybe it has something to do with the rampant violent crime in the city, or the fact police resources are incredibly strained after recruiting has been harmed by severe anti-police attitudes, or who knows what?

Like we said, we feel bad for Woods. There’s been no update to the story that we can find, but we hope he was able to get his bike back. Despite what some automotive journalists think, changing the US Constitution isn’t necessary unless they want the cops searching their house and vehicle without probable cause as their Fourth Amendment rights are rolled back. Something tells us pretty much nobody is going to like that outcome.

Steven Symes

Steven Symes is an accomplished automotive journalist with a passion for all things related to cars. His extensive knowledge and love for the automotive world shine through in his writing, which covers a diverse range of topics.

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