Stolen dirt bike recovered in Chesterfield after viral Facebook post

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Social media was credited for helping lead Chesterfield Police to a suspect accused of stealing a dirt bike during a sale, according to the victims.

Michael Johnson wrote a Facebook post Thursday morning asking for anyone who recognizes the person in his photo to message him with information.

Johnson explained the man responded to a Facebook Marketplace ad for his teenage brother's dirt bike for sale.

The parties agreed to meet at the Johnson's home off Hull Street Road on late Wednesday afternoon to exchange cash for their 2002 CR125R.

"He asked [my brother] if he could sit on and test drive [the dirt bike] and took off on it," Johnson wrote.

Johnson said his brother snapped a photo of the potential buyer because they became suspicious of his actions.

Chesterfield Police confirmed they responded to the larceny at about 7:20 p.m. Wednesday. They asked anyone with information about the suspect or his whereabouts to contact police or Crime Solvers.

Angela, who requested not to use her last name, told CBS 6 that a man matching the description of the suspect also inquired about her dirt bike for sale on Facebook Marketplace the previous day.

"The man never asked any questions about the bike like how many miles were on it or had it ever been wrecked. He just wanted to meet," she explained. "So, when I suggested we meet at the police department he didn’t want to meet anymore."

The Chesterfield mother said their brief conversation immediately raised red flags.

"It was the same picture, same guy, same conversation," Angela stated while comparing her conversation with Johnson's post. "I said, 'Oh my gosh! That’s the same guy that wanted to meet me yesterday!'"

Late Thursday night, Johnson posted that his brother's dirt bike had been recovered from a Chesterfield apartment complex and was undamaged. Johnson's original Facebook post about the stolen bike had more than 700 shares.

Johnson said he was told by an officer assigned to the case the suspect led them to the stolen dirt bike and was placed under arrest.

Jamari Barnes, 19, was arrested and charged with grand larceny for the theft of the dirt bike. He was also picked up on outstanding embezzlement warrants at his residence in the Ashebrook subdivision.

Angela said this crime was a good reminder never to invite potential buyers to your home.

"You want to be trusting, but it’s common sense," she said. "If you’re going to sell stuff online make sure you stay guarded and you’re smart."

Police shared the following tips when buying and selling items online and you intend to meet in person:

  • If you are encouraged to make an exchange in a neighborhood or somewhere you know to be dark and secluded, DO NOT make the transaction.
  • Make your exchange during daytime hours.
  • Don't invite anyone to your home.
  • Don't let anyone inside your vehicle.
  • Don't go alone.
  • Meet in a well lit place where other people will be present.