Police finally catch up to motorcyclist after he bragged on Internet posting
Officer recognizes bragging post on Internet. Man charged in February high-speed chase
By Gina Mace
Special to the Beacon Journal
NORTON - A motorcyclist who outran a Norton police officer during a high-speed chase in February was arrested after the officer identified the cyclist through an Internet post bragging about the incident on the Star Boyz Web site.
Raef Canter, 18, of New Franklin, was 17 on Feb. 14 when he took a 17-year-old friend for a ride on his 1988 Suzuki GSX-R 750 around 2:30 a.m.
He faces charges of delinquency by reason of fleeing police, reckless operation, speeding, no motorcycle endorsement, unauthorized use of plates, obstructed plate and failure to obey a traffic control device.
Norton police officer Dennis McDonald was patrolling state Route 21 when he clocked the bike in excess of 100 mph. He turned and gave chase, but called off the pursuit as the bike neared Fairlawn.
McDonald spotted the bike again on Medina Road near Acme Fresh Market in Bath Township. As he tried to get close enough to get a plate number and description, the driver spotted a Fairlawn cruiser and sped up.
``I wasn't in pursuit,'' McDonald said. ``I wanted to get a better description of the bike in case we saw it again.''
McDonald continued to follow the bike as best he could, as the motorcyclist rode 50 to 60 mph on Copley Road.
``He was taking the curves pretty slowly, driving pretty responsibly,'' McDonald said.
Once the cyclist cleared the railroad tracks at Copley Circle, he accelerated to more than 140 mph, McDonald said.
Bragging on Internet
As pursuits go, this seemed destined to be the one that got away -- until the officer heard about a post on StarBoyz.com, the Web site of a group of extreme motorcycle stunt riders known for their antics on public highways.
In an April 28 post under the subject ``Tales from the Streets FTP Style,'' someone who called himself ``rc138705'' bragged about outrunning three cruisers while carrying a passenger.
FTP stands for ``F--- The Police.''
``My friend comes over on (sic) night and he wants to go for a ride so I take him out on 21 and open the bike out well my luck a Norton cop passes on the other side when I was slowing down, I was doing about 90, I didn't really think he would try to chase a bike so I speed up to about 120... ''
McDonald said he knew when he read the post that the writer was the cyclist he chased in February.
So he joined the Web site, read other posts ``rc138705'' had written and discovered the cyclist was planning to sell the bike he was riding the night of the pursuit.
A motorcycle enthusiast himself, McDonald owns a newer model of the same bike. So, he e-mailed ``rc138705'' and expressed an interest in buying it.
``We e-mailed back and forth five or six times,'' McDonald said. ``I asked different questions about the bike and pretended that I didn't read the section about the police chase, that all I did was read the classified ads.''
When the cyclist e-mailed McDonald his phone number, McDonald traced it to Canter.
McDonald arranged to meet Canter on Saturday so that McDonald could look over the bike.
When they met, McDonald said he mentioned a post he read in the classified section that intimated that Canter's bike had been used to outrun the police.
``I asked him what that was about,'' McDonald said. ``He told me: `That's all I've done on this bike is run from the cops.' He said: `Every time I go out, they chase me.' ''
McDonald said Canter then told him the story of the February chase, and even told him that he could read the whole story on the Web site.
``He got all excited that I was interested in the story,'' the officer said, ``and started bragging away about it.''
McDonald said he asked to test-drive the bike, and Canter said he would ride it first to warm it up. When he pulled back into the driveway, a Norton cruiser pulled in behind him.
``He didn't know why they were there,'' McDonald said. ``He started coming up with excuses, telling them I was there to buy the bike and he knew it had bad plates on it.''
That's when McDonald flashed his badge.
``I told him, `I'm the officer you ran from on 21,' '' McDonald said. ``He got white as a ghost and just stood there.''
Reached by phone Monday, Canter said he has been riding for about 10 years, starting on dirt bikes. He said he got the idea to run from police by reading the Star Boyz Web site.
``The Star Boyz do it. Everyone else on that Web site does it. I know a lot of people who do it and they get away with it and tell their stories,'' Canter said. ``I knew he couldn't catch me if I tried to get away. I didn't know it was a serious thing.''
`An everyday ride'
Canter said he usually did his fast riding late at night, and he stayed in the middle of the road so that cars would see the bright light from the motorcycle and wouldn't pull out into its path.
``It's dangerous,'' Canter said, ``but it didn't feel crazy. It felt normal to me. Just an everyday ride, really.''
Canter said he doesn't smoke or do drugs. He said riding is a way to fight boredom.
``I'd rather hang out with people who outrun cops,'' he said, ``than people who sit around and smoke dope.''
But, Canter said, his running days are over.
``I made a bad choice that night,'' he said. ``There's no way I'd ever run again.''
He was booked Saturday by Norton police and released pending an appearance in juvenile court.
McDonald, who has been riding for nine years, said he has nothing against stunt cyclists.
``When you get on the bike, it's a rush,'' he said. ``They're made to go fast and you want to go fast.
``If they're doing the shows on the track, fine,'' he said. ``But on Ohio roads with potholes -- if Canter had hit a pothole where I'd clocked him, we would have two dead 17-year-olds.''