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Friday, 13 July 2012

Stolen Car Found 42 Years Later

Stolen Car Found 42 Years Later - Bob Russell, of Southlake, Stolen Car Found, Tex., has scoured online listings and kept his eyes peeled on the road, searching for the beloved car that went missing in 1970.A Texas man has been reunited with his beloved Austin Healey, more than four decades after it was stolen from an apartment complex in Philadelphia.

For years, Bob Russell, of Southlake, Tex., has scoured online listings and kept his eyes peeled on the road, searching for the car that went missing in 1970. In May, he finally found it through a listing on the popular online marketplace, for sale at a California car dealership.

"That was quite the knockdown-dragout," Russell, 66, told The Associated Press.

Russell, who was a student at Temple University when the car was stolen nearly 42 years ago, called the listed dealer, the Beverly Hills Car Club, to investigate.

"I hate to sound indelicate," he recalls telling the dealer. "But you're selling a stolen car."

The last bid on the 1967 Austin Healey 3000 didn't meet the reserve of $19.700, so the car was still for sale.

Russell explained to the dealer that the car belonged to him, but the dealer countered that the car was bought from a man who claimed it had been in his family since 1970, according to AP.

"Well, the car was stolen in 1970, so you can draw your own conclusion," Russell said. "They either stole it or bought it from the guy who stole it."

The dealer offered to sell the car back to Russell for $24,000.

While the vehicle identification number of the dealer's Healey matched that of his missing vehicle, it took a while for Russell to obtain a copy of the stolen-car report he filed so long ago, due to an FBI database error.

When it was sorted out, Philadelphia police reactivated the file and contacted the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to impound the car.

Russell and his wife Cynthia drove to California on June 16 to claim the car. They paid about $600 in impoundment fees and another $800 to have the car shipped back to their home in Texas.

"We were probably out $1500 plus six days of travel and hotel costs," Russell told AP. "I'm not complaining about any of that. I couldn't get the credit card out of my pocket fast enough."

Cynthia, who also attended Temple University, where the couple met, says it was her husband's "dogged sleuthing and fantastic help from friends, family and law enforcement officers" that helped bring the car home.

The car was stolen after the couple's second date.

Russell says he plans to restore the car, after which it "probably will be worth around $50,000."

"It still runs, but the brakes don't work well," he said. "We're going to put it back the way it was."

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