The Tales Of Two Stolen Cars That Both Showed Up After Decades Away From Home

While going about my daily rounds on the Internet, there are constantly new and surprising little tidbits popping up, usually unrelated. Which is why it’s kind of nutty to hear that two separate car theft cold cases have suddenly been solved this week, decades after the cars were stolen, with both vehicles reappearing far from home.

The car version of Homeward Bound stars not fuzzy little pets wending their way across the great American countryside, but a 1957 Chevrolet and a 1965 VW Beetle.

First, Sir Beetle The Lost: This 1965 Volkswagen was reported stolen from Tennessee in the 1970s, reports ClickOnDetroit.com, and has shown up now in — you got it — Detroit. Because the source link, see?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said officers in that city were checking documents on the car while it was being shipped from Michigan to Finland, and realized it had been reported stolen in 1974.

“Part of safeguarding our nation is to make sure that all exports are legitimate and lawful,” said Acting Port Director Marty Raybon. “Recovering a vehicle reported stolen 40 years ago is a testament to the vigilance and attention to detail on the part of CBP.”

The car and its parts for restoration have been seized by CBP, and it’s unclear if anyone is in hot water for this 40-year-old crime.

Then there’s Mr. “I Once Was Lost But Now I’m Found” Chevy: This 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air has a history of being pilfered, reports the Santa Rosa Press Democrat — it was stolen twice in the early 1980s and is one of the most droolworthy cars among collectors.

This week, after 30 years away and four other owners, it’s finally home in Northern California after being rescued from a container bound for Australia. And as a bonus, it’s been fully restored since the last time it was stolen in 1984.

“Somebody put a whole lot of work and money into that car,” the owner, its owner, a 65-year-old told the paper. “It was all disassembled and put back.”

The California Highway Patrol notified the man a few weeks ago that U.S. Customs inspectors had found the hot wheels at the Port of Los Angeles, bound for Down Under.

And oddly enough, its vehicle identification number was on file with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, so it’s mystifying how the Department of Motor Vehicles has allowed it to be passed from one owner to another without any red flags being raised. The CHP says it’d been through four owners during its time away.

The owner said he’d long given up being reunited with his vehicle — he couldn’t spot a mid-50s Bel Air on the road without wincing, the Press Democrat says.

But it sounds like having it back in all its newly-restored glory is going a long way to ease that past pain.

“There’s all kinds of chrome added under the hood,” he said. “The headers look brand spankin’ new. The tires, they look like they haven’t even been around the block.”

“I imagine somebody in Australia must be awful upset,” he added.

Stolen VW Beetle found in Detroit after 40 years [ClickOnDetroit]
Stolen Chevy returned to owner 30 years later [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

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  1. theoriginalcatastrophegirl says:

    4 owners? i’m guessing customs and border patrol has a lot more access to information and resources across state lines than various state/local DMV offices.
    from the article : “He said the DMV notified him that he is liable for 30 years of registration fees, but then backed off that claim.” – really? someone was stupid enough to process that request?