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View Full Version : Found my stolen Vette can't get it back



58bowty
08-29-13, 05:01 PM
My 59 Corvette was stolen in 1970. Recently it was found in Tennessee. Local DA says purchaser is a bona fide buyer and he refused to seize the car. The cop who went out to view it never even bothered to look for the VIN, just asked the owner to show him the paperwork. VIN tag was removed from door jamb. Hired legal help got not further with that after VIN on frame was viewed but is no longer legible. This car was retitled through a judges order in Arkansas in 1993. It was traced to it's current location through the chain of titles. My VIN is on his title. Involved state cops but they refused to interfere with local cops investigation. After 16k in legal fees I've run out of steam. Every case I've read about the car is seized and eventually returned to the owner or insurance company, but I guess not with mine. I bought this car when I was 18. It was my first Corvette and the car of my dreams. I guess the only thing worse than having your Vette stolen and never being returned is knowing where it is and can't get it back.
:BDH

i10fwy
08-29-13, 06:46 PM
Now that is a bunch of crap! Can you press charge againt the owner for having stolen property? :ugh

Vettehead Mikey
08-29-13, 07:01 PM
What would happen if you had it stolen and returned to you?

Bob Chadwick
08-29-13, 07:25 PM
Did you collect insurance proceeds in settlement? If so, its not your car and you have no rights. It belongs to the insurance company.

i10fwy
08-29-13, 08:26 PM
Did you collect insurance proceeds in settlement? If so, its not your car and you have no rights. It belongs to the insurance company.

I still like the idea of stealing it back though :happyanim:

58bowty
08-29-13, 08:27 PM
@ i10fwy: County attorney will not press charges or even seize the car. Small town, small county, a Nashville detective told me they probably all know each other.
@ Mikey: I would love to have someone steal it and return it to me.
@ bob: It was stored in a garage at the time and no insurance on it. It's my car.

Yoda
08-29-13, 09:09 PM
Contact local or regional TV Station with your information, sometimes they jump on something like this like a pit bull on ham bone...

Contact a Station near you, then one near where the Car is ;) If that don't work contact News Papers with the information...

Don't just roll over now, esp. since you KNOW where it is....

Bud

KANE
08-29-13, 10:17 PM
My 59 Corvette was stolen in 1970. Recently it was found in Tennessee. Local DA says purchaser is a bona fide buyer and he refused to seize the car. The cop who went out to view it never even bothered to look for the VIN, just asked the owner to show him the paperwork. VIN tag was removed from door jamb. Hired legal help got not further with that after VIN on frame was viewed but is no longer legible. This car was retitled through a judges order in Arkansas in 1993. It was traced to it's current location through the chain of titles. My VIN is on his title. Involved state cops but they refused to interfere with local cops investigation. After 16k in legal fees I've run out of steam. Every case I've read about the car is seized and eventually returned to the owner or insurance company, but I guess not with mine. I bought this car when I was 18. It was my first Corvette and the car of my dreams. I guess the only thing worse than having your Vette stolen and never being returned is knowing where it is and can't get it back.
:BDH

If you collected anything for it back in 1970 from the insurance company, it's going to be really hard to get it back. Add in the amount of time it changed hands... statutes of limitations... and I could see why this is a mess.




This may seem like an odd thing to propose... but have you thought about trying to purchase it?

I know that seems like you'd have bought it two times... but many of us feel that we may have already done that with total dollars spent on repairs and parts for our Vettes. :chuckle

Going back to the topic... let's say you could get the car back as a stolen vehicle. The person who has it now will be out what they thought was their car. I rather doubt they were involved in the crime, so for them... it is their car. And why not? The State and the paperwork even says they own it. Likely, they paid money for the car and if they gave it up- they'd get nothing in return. And that isn't fair to them either- they bought the car thinking no one had rights to it but them.





So, if you really want it back... offer to buy it from them. The worst they can say is no.

58bowty
08-29-13, 11:22 PM
Contact local or regional TV Station with your information, sometimes they jump on something like this like a pit bull on ham bone...

Contact a Station near you, then one near where the Car is ;) If that don't work contact News Papers with the information...

Don't just roll over now, esp. since you KNOW where it is....

Bud
Good idea. Can't hurt to try.

58bowty
08-30-13, 08:02 AM
If you collected anything for it back in 1970 from the insurance company, it's going to be really hard to get it back. Add in the amount of time it changed hands... statutes of limitations... and I could see why this is a mess.




This may seem like an odd thing to propose... but have you thought about trying to purchase it?

I know that seems like you'd have bought it two times... but many of us feel that we may have already done that with total dollars spent on repairs and parts for our Vettes. :chuckle

Going back to the topic... let's say you could get the car back as a stolen vehicle. The person who has it now will be out what they thought was their car. I rather doubt they were involved in the crime, so for them... it is their car. And why not? The State and the paperwork even says they own it. Likely, they paid money for the car and if they gave it up- they'd get nothing in return. And that isn't fair to them either- they bought the car thinking no one had rights to it but them.





So, if you really want it back... offer to buy it from them. The worst they can say is no.

So let's say someone steals YOUR Corvette and sells it to someone who does not know it's stolen, then that person can keep your car?? Really??. Not in my world. Whether it's a Corvette, TV, or your bicycle, it's stolen. If you have become a victim because you purchased stolen merchandise you do not go back to the original victim of the theft, you need to sue the person you bought it from. And for the record the car was stored in a garage and not insured so it does not belong to any insurance company and there is no mess, the car was traced through title records by the cops to it's current location.

KANE
08-30-13, 08:15 AM
So let's say someone steals YOUR Corvette and sells it to someone who does not know it's stolen, then that person can keep your car?? Really??. Not in my world. Whether it's a Corvette, TV, or your bicycle, it's stolen. If you have become a victim because you purchased stolen merchandise you do not go back to the original victim of the theft, you need to sue the person you bought it from. And for the record the car was stored in a garage and not insured so it does not belong to any insurance company and there is no mess, the car was traced through title records by the cops to it's current location.

I don't disagree... no one should have to buy back their own property.

But it is what it is- either you want the car back and the means justifies the ends or you stay where you are at. Life isn't fair- but you do have options beyond what tactics haven't worked.


These are good questions to ask though... is the current owner guilty of theft? And how many folks would now need sue their way to being made whole? The current owner- and then every person through the chain to the original thief? I'm not sure that makes sense either.

Again- I completely see where you are coming from. No one should have to buy back their property.



But if you aren't winning- change your tactics. You've already dumped $16k into that car and you still don't have it back. Who knows- you could have paid the current owners $16k for it and have the car in your possession.


Change your tactics. Hopefully, then you'll get your car back. The courts aren't working.

Mac
08-30-13, 08:19 AM
If the local police aren't being cooperative for whatever reason, perhaps the next step is to take it up a notch and get either the state or federal police involved?

Sorry, I see you've already talked to the state police. Hard to imagine why they're holding back??

Out of curiosity, if the car was stolen in 1970 but located through title checks, why the +40 year delay?

Mac

Bob Chadwick
08-30-13, 09:44 AM
I talked with an attorney that I do a lot of business with. He indicated that you could file an action in Tenessesee asking a court to determine ownership. You should have superior title and assuming the proper proof, the court should award you the car. He did indicate that there might be a statute of limitations problem. You would need to retain a Tennessee attorney for more specific guidance.

srs244
08-30-13, 10:38 AM
i assume you recovered value from the insurance company when it was originally stolen back whenever. you should contact the insurance company and let them know you found the car (they may have more of a bull dog mentality to get their asset back and may have more "pull" with the locals from a legal aspect). after all when they paid you you signed the title over to them before they would release the check to settle the loss. at that point, and assuming they were successful in recovery, the vehicle would belong to them for their disposal. of course as a public relations move they could offer to give it back to you if you repay them whatever claims money they originally paid out, but i wouldn't count on it. all that is assuming the company is even still in business. technically (and i would assume legally), you have no claim to the property as you don't own it any longer and your claim for value was satisfied as soon as you signed over the title to the insurance company to get paid for the loss years ago. NOW.............if you never filed a claim and never got paid (because you had no theft coverage), all those bets are off. if you have the original title, you might just have some legal rights assuming the statute of limitations hasn't expired. you say you have invested 16k into this already, i assume you have an attorney, what is he (or she) telling you to do?? that's why you pay them to provide that advice and legal council. good luck i hope it works out for you.

Otter
08-30-13, 11:58 AM
@ i10fwy: County attorney will not press charges or even seize the car. Small town, small county, a Nashville detective told me they probably all know each other.
@ Mikey: I would love to have someone steal it and return it to me.
@ bob: It was stored in a garage at the time and no insurance on it. It's my car.


i assume you recovered value from the insurance company when it was originally stolen back whenever.



:(

Huskerman
08-30-13, 01:36 PM
Seems to me the issue needs to go back to Arkansas and to the courts who issued a title on this car in 93.....how did that happen? Statute of limitations...? Isn't there a VIN # on the frame of the car?
I think the Judge who issued the new title and the State if he is no doubt gone is responsible given its new lease on life and title. I'd start there.......especially if the VIN# has not been altered.....the current owner will have to take issue and sue the State of Arkansas for titling a stolen vehicle.......I would be pissed and I would raise all kinds of hell about it and so should the current guy who is in possession of your old car.....those are my thoughts anyway.....

Mac
08-30-13, 04:49 PM
Seems to me the issue needs to go back to Arkansas and to the courts who issued a title on this car in 93.....how did that happen? Statute of limitations...? Isn't there a VIN # on the frame of the car?
I think the Judge who issued the new title and the State if he is no doubt gone is responsible given its new lease on life and title. I'd start there.......especially if the VIN# has not been altered.....the current owner will have to take issue and sue the State of Arkansas for titling a stolen vehicle.......I would be pissed and I would raise all kinds of hell about it and so should the current guy who is in possession of your old car.....those are my thoughts anyway.....
The only thing I've run into like this was years ago while working patrol. I got a call from the DMV when a guy brought in a Harley to be registered. The VIN was registered as stolen. Similarly, no insurance payout. It had been about 10 years. The original owner was notified. The guy who was trying to register it had a legitimate bill of sale. He bought it as a bare frame and built the bike of his dreams. Imagine his chagrin to find the bike was stolen.

Long story short, the new builder recovered his funds from the business that sold him the bike, then made an arrangement with original owner who basically paid him the cost of the parts (luckily, the builder had all receipts) so the builder lost nothing but his time... and the original owner got a kickass custom Harley for very low cost.

Mac

Tom Bryant
09-02-13, 12:24 AM
You said the frame number was found but no longer legible. When a number is stamped it compresses the molecules in the steel under the stamping. There is a chemical process that makes it possible to read a number on an engine block even if it has been ground or machined off. It should work on the frame also. You might talk to a metallurgist about it.

Do you still have the title from when you had the car? Usually the oldest valid title that matches the VIN owns the car.


Tom

warren s
09-02-13, 09:23 AM
So let's say someone steals YOUR Corvette and sells it to someone who does not know it's stolen, then that person can keep your car?? Really??. Not in my world. Whether it's a Corvette, TV, or your bicycle, it's stolen. If you have become a victim because you purchased stolen merchandise you do not go back to the original victim of the theft, you need to sue the person you bought it from. And for the record the car was stored in a garage and not insured so it does not belong to any insurance company and there is no mess, the car was traced through title records by the cops to it's current location.

So the car had a clean title for 20 years, and your saying its stolen - and the current owner should have the car seized from him?
There is a piece of the puzzle missing here. Did the current owner have the judge re-issue the title OR did the current owner buy a car from a seller with a clean title (to the best of his knowledge) to begin with?

Tom Bryant
09-02-13, 11:59 AM
In these cases the guy that looses the most is the current owner that bought the car in good faith and got a clean title with it. It hasn't been all that many years since there was an FBI national data base of stolen vehicles. Before that you could steal a car in one state and get it titled in another with something as simple as a signed bill of sale claiming a lost title. All you had to do was be convincing to the BMV lady you were talking to. Things have tightened up a lot over the last couple of decades. We still need to remember that up until 1960 Corvette VIN plates were attached with 2 pan head wood screws. The practice of buying a wrecked Corvette with a title and walking out of the junk yard with a title and a vin plate was well documented. Steal another Corvette of the same year and 2 screws later it was yours. Few knew of the frame stamping and since it is located where it is, it was hard to verify.

Have you contacted the police that originally took the theft report to see if you can get the Corvette's info added to the FBI database? I'm assuming it was stolen before that was common practice. That could cause a lot of problems for the guy with the car and may cause someone to have to act on it.

In this case it seems like a judge in Arkansas was convinced that the title was lost and the guy in possession of the car was the rightful owner. Who knows how that was done or even if the judge really cared at the time. It was just the next order of business to cross his desk that day. A faked bill of sale and a signed affidavit was probably all that was needed.

Often in these cases the car passes through several hands and becomes a fully restored collector car before it is discovered. It may have been worth $1500. when it was stolen and now was last purchased for $80,000. The last buyer has no recourse but to go after the guy he bought it from and so on clear back to the thief, who probably has long since disappeared. Somewhere along this line of innocent buyers/sellers someone will have to pay back to his buyer and there will be nowhere for him to turn for restitution. Someone will loose thousands and each person will also have the legal obligation to prove they weren't the thief. What a mess.

Tom

p.s. I've been searching for a '57 Fuelie for years that was stolen from a friend without theft insurance back in '69. I keep hoping I'll run across an old picture or see the VIN someplace. More that likely it has been restored with a different VIN. If anyone even noticed the frame number didn't match they probably just finished the restoration, put the body back on without saying anything and sold it on down the road. Who knows, I might have seen the car several times.

Tom Bryant
09-02-13, 12:14 PM
I just had an idea. Does the guy travel with the car or possibly show it out of state or in a different part of Tenn? I'd be watching him and follow him to a show someplace. Have your title and documents with you and contact the police in that jurisdiction. They would be much easier to talk to than the good old boys club where the guy lives. Many stolen Corvettes have been confiscated at shows. Let the court in that jurisdiction decide who is the owner. They would be less prejudiced. Oldest still valid title will/should take the car.

Tom

KANE
09-02-13, 02:34 PM
Lots of great replies from everyone here, 58bowty.

We all want you to get your car back.


:thumb




Looking back on your earlier post... I think this may be the lynch pin as to why you're struggling with getting the car back:

VIN on frame was viewed but is no longer legible.

I guess there isn't enough of the whole car to prove conclusively that it is yours in the state that it is in.

Without a good frame number- to the State, the judges, and the departments of motor vehicles... it may just be a body that is left. Unless the car in it's entirety can be proven to be yours... seems like no one is in a rush to hand it over. I don't think anyone wants to dismantle the car and say "Here ya' go- here's the body. That's all that we can say conclusively is yours."


For you, I do hope that it all works itself out. This is a real painful mess that, unlike wine, isn't getting better with age.

tonythree
01-20-14, 04:39 PM
Not a day goes by I don't think about my 66 427 L88 Roadster, Great way to combat auto theft. You know if that was some cops kids car they would go back build a case and sting them all up. I got $1000.00 for mine, pitiful when you think an all original may bring well over $100,000.00. I can say with certainty I would take somebody out if I ever found out who it was. Wishful thinking. Seems to me with the attitude these so called law enforcement people have "anything goes" maybe your Corvette could meet an firey demise, I mean after all if you can't rightfully get your rightful property back why should some scumbag be able to enjoy it. The paper trail was all phoney to bury the car in beaurocracy and paper for sure. Good luck with that.
:BDH[/QUOTE]

:r

Huskerman
01-20-14, 06:43 PM
Uh.....you mean your 67 L88........or your 66 L72.....I'm thinking.......:thumb Welcome to the CAC.......

tonythree
01-20-14, 11:43 PM
Uh.....you mean your 67 L88........or your 66 L72.....I'm thinking.......:thumb Welcome to the CAC.......

uh, er, L72. I kicked it up in 69 with Alum. L88 heads 12:1's 488's out back and Holley 850 CFM. Never lost on the street but got lots of beer in my face, seems I always had a beer in my lap whenever a 429, 440 or 427 challenged my stock looking L 72. Bos 429's (Dual 4's):chuckle were the biggest slugs.

Huskerman
01-21-14, 08:56 AM
Sounds like a very fast Corvette....it has to be out there somewhere or at least pieces of it.......I hate thieves...........:mad

oledocclock
02-01-14, 09:39 PM
Try contacting the National Automobile Theft Bureau (NATB)

roger longman
02-12-14, 07:07 PM
It was stolen from you, you haven't been compensated,whosoever bought it subsequently was buying a stolen car, 'caveat emptor'; the car belongs to you. That is the law the whole civilised world over.......Roger.

hcbph
03-22-14, 09:16 AM
I was just watching a video from the NICB (I thinks that's the National Insurance Crime Board) that has had involvement in recovering stolen vehicles. IMO it would be worth contacting them if there was a police report on record for the stolen vehicle. They've had videos on vehicles stolen 30+ years ago that were recovered and returned to their rightful owners. Sounds like you have enough info it could make a recovery possible and knowing where the vehicle is certainly would help out.

koolaid117
04-02-14, 11:00 AM
58bowty, do you have any updates for us?