Hartford police seize stolen dirt bike with help from motivated mom

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HARTFORD --  Undercover detectives in Hartford successfully located a stolen dirt bike Thursday after setting up a buy through an app.

The bike belonged to a 19-year-old Suffield resident who was trying to sell it. He said he had set up a time to meet with a potential buyer on July 28, but that person never showed up. The next day the dirt bike was gone and he reported it stolen to Suffield Police.

The victim is a good friend of Erin O'Brien's son. She found out about the theft and took matters into her own hands.

"He immediately let everybody know and we were all shocked that it happened, so immediately I started posting on every site that I knew saying, 'Hey, this bike got stolen,'" said O'Brien.

Other moms and teens began their own detective work too finding the dirt  bike for sale on Facebook's marketplace the very next day.

O'Brien tried to contact the seller and act like a potential buyer, but she believes the seller caught on. They found the dirt bike listed on other sites and apps as well.

"Other people got involved and tried to do the same thing," said O'Brien. "We didn't know what we were doing."

Finally, because the seller was out of Hartford, they contacted Hartford Police with all of their screen grabs from the ads.

Deputy Chief Brian Foley of the Hartford Police Department said that information was given to the Major Crimes Division and undercover detectives set up a buy through the app "Offer Up."

"They met up with the seller to buy the bike and made the arrest, captured the suspect, and got the bike back," said Dep. Chief Foley.

O'Brien said she got the news Friday morning, which came as a huge relief.

"People do their own investigations online through google searches, through different Facebook sites or wherever, any type of social media, and they'll find clues," explained Dep. Chief Foley. "Then they hand deliver a lot of it to us. We still have to do our vetting and our due diligence in the crime, and that's what's we're doing still. This investigation is still ongoing. But we find it very helpful."

Police said they arrested Deshaun Fitzpatrick, 19, of East Hartford. He is charged with third degree larceny and interfering with police.

O'Brien said the victim is supposed to get the bike back on Saturday.

"You know the poor kid couldn't relax knowing this happened," said O'Brien.

She said, "It's good news with all these bike thefts and everything going on. It's finally a good story."