When you hear about car theft, you often think of new cars … or at least recent cars. Sure, a Toyota Camry is a nice car, but even an old one isn’t exactly a classic. Yet, believe it or not, classic cars are stolen all the time. Just ask the auto insurance companies.
The Western States Auto Theft Investigators Association runs a webpage dedicated solely to collecting stolen classic car alerts, and the page has an enormous number of entries.
You might wonder how somebody can drive off with, say, a 1915 Indian motorcycle. But it happens all the time.
And the strange thing is, that’s not even the oddest story of car theft.
#1) Thieves in Fresno Steal 1970 Chevy Monte Carlo… Deliberately
We’ve reported before about Fresno’s rather notorious car thieves, but this was something that surprised even the Fresno Police Department. Joe Raley’s garage was broken into by thieves with bolt cutters, who promptly stole some tools and drove off with his distinctive teal 1970 Chevy Monte Carlo.
By all accounts, Raley was deliberately targeted for his Monte Carlo: The thieves observed his schedule and broke into his house while he was at work. They even knew he left the keys in the ignition. Apparently the 26 years worth of restoration time Raley put into the car made it highly valuable.
It’s just cold to steal a man’s classic muscle car… not to mention it’s about as attention-getting a vehicle as you can find.
#2) Man Tracks Down His Prized Camaro… 16 Years Later
It’s not quite Robert Russell’s epic 42 year quest for his Austin Healey, but it’s up there: Edward Neeley lost his prized 1969 Camaro in 1995 … and 16 years later, saw it for sale online in Utah.
The seller, one Brent Dockery, was no criminal: the car had had its VIN number switched and he had no idea he was selling some stolen Detroit muscle. Of course, that didn’t really console him much since he spent about $16,000 on the car itself and another $10,000 having it upgraded… so Dockery and Neeley are going to court.
Really, just let the man have his Camaro.
#3) 1957 Chevy Bel Air Gets Stolen From Owner… Then Stolen From Thief
We’re just glad this story has a happy ending, but it takes a long, winding, and fairly ridiculous road to actually get there.
Randy Duncan’s first project was a 1957 Chevy Bel Air Wagon, an undeniable classic. But it wasn’t stolen because it was a classic. It was stolen because a criminal had been in a chase with police using his pickup truck and managed to crash it. His truck out of commission, the crook sprinted away and stumbled across Duncan’s garage, with the Bel Air sitting right there with the keys in the ignition.
Amazingly, he managed to steal a bright yellow classic car with collector’s plates and drive it off. It was found by a Good Samaritan under a tarp a few days later.
But when police inspected the vehicle, they discovered that the steering column had been stripped and the car had been hotwired. There was no reason for the original thief to do that: he’d gotten the keys, after all.
No, police are sure that somebody else saw the classic car and just couldn’t resist stealing it.
The moral of the story? Keep your keys out of the ignition.