A “For Sale” sign is supposed to draw a little attention to the item it’s sitting on, right?
But Chris Bausby of Kansas City got more attention than he bargained for after he plopped the sign on a stolen motorcycle in his front yard.
Now, in fairness, it’s not at all clear that Bausby, 53, even knew that the 1981 Kawasaki had been stolen. He apparently was selling the bike after a friend purchased it at a tow lot auction, according to court records.
But Bausby now knows that a For Sale sign on anything in your front yard can lead to a world of unintended consequences.
His trouble started June 22, 2010, when a man told police that he’d just seen his stolen motorcycle posted with the For Sale sign in a yard in the 5400 block of Woodland Avenue.
Kansas City officers entered the fenced-in front yard, checked the bike’s vehicle identification number and confirmed with dispatchers that it had been reported stolen two months before, according to an opinion issued Thursday by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
An Oldsmobile in the shared driveway also had been reported stolen, court records said.
With that, officers hunkered down, called for a search warrant for the house and waited for Bausby to come home. A search of the home later turned up a 12-gauge shotgun, which Bausby could not legally possess because of his felony convictions.
Bausby, who has several felonies and about 50 arrests on his record, later pleaded guilty to illegally possessing a firearm. But he reserved the right to argue on appeal that evidence from the search, including the shotgun, should have been suppressed because officers had no right to enter his property and look at the motorcycle.
The yard, after all, was surrounded by a chain link fence marked with a “Beware of Dog” sign.
Good points, the court acknowledged Thursday in denying his appeal. But because Bausby had offered items for sale in the yard, officers could inspect the motorcycle without a warrant, the court ruled.
“Bausby took affirmative steps to draw the attention of the public to the front yard of his residence,” the court wrote. “Specifically, he used this area to display the motorcycle and other items he was selling to the public who passed by his residence.”
In September, U.S. District Judge Greg Kays sentenced Bausby to 34 months in prison.