By Kuebi = Armin Kübelbeck [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Incredible Stories of Stolen Cars that Were Found Decades Later

You use it to go to work, to travel to the store and to visit your friends, but most people never think that a thief would steal their car. Auto theft is a serious issue that costs an untold amount of money each year, and few things are as terrifying as realizing that your vehicle is not where you had left it. The good news is that modern technology is making it increasingly difficult for criminals to take cars that don’t belong to them, and more thieves are starting to realize that some cars are not worth the risk.

For example, one thief thought it would be a good idea to steal a BMW, and he was so confident that he decided to take a nap inside the vehicle, but he soon woke up to an unpleasant surprise. The thief did not take long to discover that he had been remotely locked inside the car and that the police were about to take action. In the past, tracking a stolen vehicle was no easy task. But there are some incredible stories of cars that had been found years or even decades after they had disappeared, and you are about to learn some of these stories.

1968 Chevrolet Camaro Found After 34 years

By Ferenghi (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ferenghi (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In 1981, Ron Reolfi bought a 1968 Camaro, and he had plans of working on it with his father. But a few short weeks after the purchase, the 327 V8 Camaro went missing from a parking lot in Jackson Township. Although Reolfi contacted the police, there was not much that they could do for him, and he gave up hope of ever seeing his car.

More than 30 years later, Reolfi received an unbelievable call from the police. They had found his Camaro when the VIN was flagged as a stolen vehicle during a recent transaction. It took several months to reclaim the vehicle from the authorities, but he finally succeeded. Although the vehicle changed owners four times over the years, it seemed to be in better condition than when he originally bought it. It had a new rear axle, engine and suspension, and the interior was redone as well.

1981 Ferrari Found Almost 30 Years Later

In 1987, a Ferrari went missing without a trace, and the owner, who wished to remain anonymous, quickly gave up on seeing it ever again. He was compensated by the insurance company and made peace with the situation.

Then, almost 30 years after, the car was seized by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in April of 2016. The culprits were trying to ship the stolen car to Poland. The customs agents discovered that the VIN of the vehicle did not match, so they flagged it for inspection and hit jackpot.

In spite of the amount of time that had passed, the Ferrari only had 45,000 miles on the odometer.

Stolen 1967 Austin Healey Found on eBay 42 Years Later

By The Car Spy (DSCN1706) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By The Car Spy (DSCN1706) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Most people give up on finding a stolen car after a few months, but Robert Russell is not most people. His 1967 Austin Healey was taken from him in 1970, and his friends thought that searching for the car was pointless. Russell, though, refused to give up on finding his car, and the search continued decades later. When internet use became mainstream, Russell searched for the car on Google, but he never had any luck.

One day, he was shocked to find his car on eBay. The reason that it was impossible for the police to locate the stolen vehicle was that Russel entered the wrong VIN on the stolen vehicle report. Luckily, he still had the original title, where the correct VIN was listed as well. Although it was stolen in Philadelphia, the car found its way to Los Angeles. Since Robert moved to Texas in the meantime, getting the car back ran into some hurdles, but he finally managed to get it back.

A 1967 Jaguar XKE Found After 46 Years

By order_242 from Chile (Jaguar E-Type XKE 4.2 Roadster 1967) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By order_242 from Chile (Jaguar E-Type XKE 4.2 Roadster 1967) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

More than 46 years ago, Ivan Schneider was devastated when he discovered that his 1967 Jaguar had found its way into the hands of a thief. The theft happened in 1968, some time during the night, as the car wasn’t parked in its usual place when he started his way to work. The authorities at the Long Beach seaport confiscated the stolen vehicle in 2014, after receiving information from the National Insurance Crime Bureau that the car was flagged as stolen in the database. The car was bound to be shipped to Europe. The then 82 year old owner was finally reunited with his car.

1964 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Found After 40 Years

By Niels de Wit from Lunteren, The Netherlands (1964 Chevrolet Corvette C2 Stingray Convertible) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Niels de Wit from Lunteren, The Netherlands (1964 Chevrolet Corvette C2 Stingray Convertible) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

When Modesto Fleming reported her 1964 Corvette Stingray stolen, she knew that she would never again get behind the wheel of this classic car. The theft occurred in 1976 and had become nothing more than a distant memory, but Fleming was in for the surprise of her life. Imagine her surprise when the police contacted the woman in October 2016 to inform her that they have recovered the her long lost Stingray.

The individual who had owned the vehicle after the theft had taken it to a car show, and he was clueless about its sinister history. At that same car show, it was noticed that the VIN did not match the make or model, so the police were alerted. They were able to verify with the National Insurance Crime Bureau that the vehicle was actually stolen.

Unfortunately, not all stories have a happy ending. Although Fleming got her car back, it was recovered from a man who had owned it for nearly two decades. The dealership from which he bought the Stingray is no longer in business.

1968 Corvette Returned to Owner After 37 Years

By Kuebi = Armin Kübelbeck [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Kuebi = Armin Kübelbeck [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In 1969, Alan Poster’s Corvette was stolen from a parking garage. Poster had purchased the car immediately after his divorce, and it was a symbol of his new life. When his car went missing, Poster did not know what to do, and it seemed as though he had no chance of locating it.

Then, in December of 2006, nearly four decades after the disappearance of the car, Poster got a call he didn’t expect at all. The customs agents recovered his stolen Corvette just as the vehicle was about to be shipped to Sweden.

Detectives spent a lot of time and effort looking through old crime reports to locate the rightful owner. Although he had owned many cars since then, the Corvette has always held a special place in Poster’s heart.

Imagine finding a NEW, still factory wrapped 1985 Camaro IROC-Z

By Bull-Doser at English Wikipedia (Own work.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Bull-Doser at English Wikipedia (Own work.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Back in 2009, this is exactly what happened.  It was found still wrapped in plastic, in brand new condition in the back of a trailer. It was there for some 24 years. The car only had 4.3 miles on the odometer. It was sold on eBay to a collector, and changed owners until it was finally sold for $27,000 at a Mecum Indy auction in 2011.

Final Thoughts

As history demonstrates, cars have always been a prime target for thieves, and because of the lack of technology, some cars were never recovered by their owners. No matter how slim the odds might be, it’s always possible to find a stolen vehicle. Luckily, modern cars have advanced technology that makes it all but impossible for thieves to obtain them. Well, keep them, at least. Databases, GPS tracking and remote access are just a few of the ways that car manufacturers protect their creations from ending up in the wrong hands.

In a world of uncertainty, this technology offers car owners peace of mind, allowing them to put their worries to rest. Although it may never be possible to eliminate car theft entirely, steps can always be taken to discourage such crimes. A car is an investment, so overlooking anti-theft measures is a mistake that shouldn’t be made.

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