By on July 15, 2014

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The students at Los Angeles’ Norwalk High School learned about the 1978 Mark Hamill movie “Corvette Summer” in the worst possible way this week when the 1969 Nova that they spent seven years working on was stolen from its parking spot in front of their teacher’s house at around 3 AM Monday morning.

According to witnesses, the car was picked up and taken away in just seconds by a dark colored tow truck in an operation that closely resembles those used by repo men. The car, which was purchased by auto shop instructor Ken Cook as a rolling wreck for just $600 several years ago, had been transformed through the work of more than 400 students into formidable street machine that Mr. Cook claims is currently worth between 25 and 30 thousand dollars.

News of the theft hit the local airwaves Monday evening when Los Angeles’ CBS affiliate KCBS ran a story on their PM newscast and then posted to their website. The car was last seen where it had been parked and is missing its hood, which had been removed while students worked to resolve an overheating issue. The license number is NHSRACE. Anyone with information on the car’s whereabouts is urged to call the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Pico Rivera station at 562-949-2421.

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76 Comments on “Thieves Take Students’ Project Car...”


  • avatar

    There is a guy I know – who show remain nameless – that ran outside with a gun and fired shots at someone trying to steal hisCcrown Victoria.

    No one ever tried to steal it again.

    I have to lock up my Jeep in the garage because the 5-spoke “Goliath” wheels are a hot target.

    “Wheel locks” only slow these animals down…

    • 0 avatar

      This is why I advocate for gun control.

      If he had better control of his weapon, he would have hit them.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        The only people that rate lower than car thieves in my book are pedophiles – especially the ones who steal project cars.

        I say mete out the same punishment to the thief as is ultimately inflicted on the vehicle.

        If the car isn’t recovered intact, then the thief should be drawn and quartered, and left to rot in a public place under a big sign that reads CONVICTED CAR THIEF.

        Because a nickel upstate doesn’t seem to be deterring these guys.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          You can steal as many cars as you want in CA and get caught every time and, unless you have a prior strike, you cannot legally be sent to state prison. See AB109.

          You will go to county jail, serve approximately 10 to 30 percent of your sentence, and be right back out stealing cars again. No matter how many times you are convicted, you cannot go “upstate.”

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Los Angeles. Of course this happened in Los Angeles.

    From what I understand, auto theft is so common in California that it’s actually considered a legitimate sector of the economy.

    Another few years and people will be able to openly put Car Thief on their resumes out there.

  • avatar
    MBella

    What shocks me more than the theft, was that a high school let a shop teacher have the kids work on a car like this. When I was in high school, we helped one of the teachers start building his C3 Corvette. When the higher ups found out, the car had to go immediately, and they made a big fuss about him misusing his authority.

    • 0 avatar
      koshchei

      When I was in high school, my shop teacher and I rebuilt his 1985 Olds Delta 88 frame-up with a new 403 and THM400. It was a really valuable learning experience.

      Meanwhile the other dunces were sitting in somebody’s van on the lift, listening to the radio.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Agreed koshchei. All I had to work on was a lawnmower. Seriously. Still, it was a great class and I learned a lot.

        • 0 avatar
          koshchei

          I loved working on cars when I was younger. With the huge number of non-serviceable parts in newer cars, I don’t feel the same interest anymore.

          I guess I’m over the hill.

          edit: No, I take that back. Now that I think about it, my interest arose from seeing the things I was learning in Physics and Chemistry class being applied practically. In newer cars, they’re invisible to the end-user and mechanic due to software moderation. You can only influence them indirectly.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    One of the local high schools has a auto shop program. District agreed that students could work on project vehicles with the owner paying the materials but not the labor. Local GMC Buick dealer (95 years in business) has had them restore several old GMC trucks between 20 and 70 years old that were rotting out on the ranch belonging to the family that owned the dealership. Those cars now sit in parts department “showroom” (was the former dealership location) visible from one of the old alignments of Route 66.

    Car theft is paramount to horse theft and we know what the punishment was for that.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      In some states it is still the legal equivalent and killing the thief – or attempted thief – results in absolution for the vehicle owner.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Not in CA. In CA, that will buy you a murder charge.

      • 0 avatar
        koshchei

        Which states, specifically?

        • 0 avatar
          Felis Concolor

          I know TX and CO still have statutes defending the use of deadly force when one’s means of transportation are threatened, and they do trace back to the days in the Old West when stealing someone’s horse effectively sentenced the victim to death.

          There is also a case from the past couple decades in NY where a “repo man” was shot and killed and the police declined to press charges against the shooter.

          • 0 avatar
            George B

            Texas has a whole chapter of law regarding when use of force is “justified”. http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/SOTWDocs/PE/htm/PE.9.htm

            Sec. 9.42. DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY.
            Sec. 9.43. PROTECTION OF THIRD PERSON’S PROPERTY.

            Not only can you legally kill someone stealing your stuff, in Texas you can legally kill someone stealing your neighbor’s stuff too. However, it’s probably better to detain the thieves at gunpoint until the police arrive.

  • avatar
    formula m

    It certainly sucks that the car was stolen but there is no justification in killing someone over a non-violent car theft…
    Kids were probably talking about where they were going to be working on it. Someone they knew is probably involved. Same thing happend with my dirtbike. People saw it at a party I had, told other dirtbags and it was stolen from my garage shortly there after.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      There isn’t, but there should be. I’d prefer to live in a system where intentionally harming others actually is that unacceptable.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Agreed rpn.

      • 0 avatar
        koshchei

        This is why we have a thing called “law”, which mediates the amount of harm you can inflict in reprisal, thereby preventing generations-long vendettas.

        You can’t, through threat of violence, force people to be nice to one another. You can, however, regulate the fallout so that things don’t devolve into Lord of the Flies because somebody forgot to lock their bike up.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          The law on theft is a joke in CA.

          • 0 avatar
            koshchei

            I’m still having difficulty going from:

            1) Law on theft is a joke in California because criminals can’t be sent to the big house.

            to

            2) Murder people who you think have wronged you.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Agreed koshchei. Murder is bad. However, when the law is a joke, people will not respect it. People get mad and say things you should probably not take literally.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            It’s not about who thinks what in a situation. I’m saying that the government should take care of it, for people who are convicted of such things. That it should be unacceptable to the point where that’s the standard punishment. But I’m fully aware that I’m the strange one, and that most of the population thinks it’s no big deal to harm other people or their property to almost any degree short of murder. So just let them do what they want and working people will pay for their expensive timeouts the odd time we happen to catch them and for the damages the rest of the time.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            I agree with your feelings rpn. Stealing someone’s car is not a minor crime. It is a big deal.

            Literally proposing the death penalty for car theft, however, is simply a bridge too far for just about everyone. Even most murders don’t qualify in this country. In some states you can murder 100 babies and still not get the death penalty. You are definitely a tiny minority on this one.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Old cars are too easy to steal. Teacher should have known better. That car is long gone.. Good luck getting it back (unless there was a transponder in it or something).

    • 0 avatar
      koshchei

      Sadly, this.

      Hey, brilliant idea: Instead of ranting about how the scumbags who did this should be hunted down and murdered, how about throwing $10 to this class so that they can put it towards a new set of “needs work” wheels?

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Or, vote for people who will actually put the scumbags in prison, instead of turning them right back out on the street.

        • 0 avatar
          mikey

          @thelaine….Here in Canada we embrace the “hug a thug” system of justice.

          If you leave your car in the driveway unlocked, it will get hit. If the cops catch the guys. The worst penalty they may face? A good stiff talking to.

          If a bad guy invades my home? Were not allowed hand guns? So I whack the dude with the five iron beside my bed. I could be charged with “assault with a deadly weapon”

          Thanks to our bleeding heart left wing judges, the bad guy would walk free.

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            We in Canada voted for a tough on crime, harsher prison sentences, Prime Minister.

            He got over ruled by the courts. And you guys think “your system has some issues.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            @mikey

            Hey Mikey,

            I love Canada and your government has been doing a hell of a job, relatively speaking. Still, the fact that you cannot defend yourself with a firearm in your own home is a violation of a person’s basic right to defend his/her life and the lives of his/her family. It is a shameful human rights violation, in my opinion.

            As for property crime outside your home, yeah, “non-violent” crime is going the way of narcotics enforcement. You get probation and counseling. Heck, you wouldn’t be stealing if you didn’t have a drug problem, right? So, let’s get you some treatment. First though, let us hug.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            “Still, the fact that you cannot defend yourself with a firearm in your own home is a violation of a person’s basic right to defend his/her life and the lives of his/her family.”

            You can. You just can’t keep them unlocked and loaded, so there is a delay involved. It really wouldn’t take more than five seconds to unlock and load my 12-gauge if I kept it right beside my bed. I could also drive around with that shotgun in my passenger seat, but once again I would have to take a few seconds to unlock and load it to use it. Handguns require more licensing to acquire and you generally cannot carry those with you in public except for the purpose of transportation to a gun range, but I know plenty of people who own them and could use them for home defense if necessary.

            As long as the threat of personal harm is reasonable, you can shoot home invaders. You’ll probably have to shoot them in the front though.

    • 0 avatar
      Bill Wade

      A tow truck can grab a late model just as easy as a classic.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Teacher and students should have known better. CA is a crook’s paradise. Auto burg and auto theft are rampant.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Actual fact:

      According to the FBI, motor vehicle thefts, annually:
      2013: 697,979
      2010: 734,226
      2005: 1,235,859
      2000: 1,160,002
      1995: 1,472,441
      1990: 1,635,907

      Summary: auto thefts are less than 50% of what they were 20 years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        They are going up in CA.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Really?
          Because if you look at the statistics from the California Attorney General, they show the same pattern:

          http://oag.ca.gov/crime

          But if you have fact to the contrary, thelaine, feel free to share that…

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            You picked the time frame.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            You’re trying to use reality-based arguments on someone who has no sense of reality.

            Some will be disappointed to hear that California has per capita property crime rates that are below the national average. (If you want to be a victim of burglary, then a number of red states provide excellent opportunities.)

            On the other hand, California does lead the 50 states in per capita auto theft. The experts would tell you that the weather and proximity to ports help to explain this: the weather allows cars to age more gracefully, and older cars are easier to steal, while the ability to export some of those stolen cars makes it that much easier.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Typical juvenile personal attacks and irrelevant references aside, theft crime is up in CA since the passage of AB 109. That is the reality, like it or not.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Thelaine,
            Interesting that you whine about “typical juvenile personal attacks”, when I haven’t called you any names, but you wrote that I am “always a snarky dik” [SIC].

            Here’s a recap:
            You stated that auto theft is rampant. I cited fact, easily verified, that (a) auto thefts nationally have fallen dramatically, and that (b) crime in California has also fallen dramatically.

            Your response was to claim I picked the timeframe, another lie, since I just relayed the graphs in the sources I cited.

            You then repeated your lie, claiming it was true, again with no sources whatsoever.

            Then you called me a name.

            Then you whined about the juvenile name calling.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Don’t trust crime statistics. I spoke to a San Diego police officer at a party on the 4th of July. He told me that carjacking has been reclassified as a property crime instead of a violent crime to bring down violent crime numbers. What else are they doing to improve their narrative? It resembles how Obama reclassified turning people around at border checkpoints as deportations so he could claim an increase in deportations even as deportations practically stopped.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Since you did not rebut the point I actually made, your citations are irrelevant. AB 109 made it impossible for most thieves to be sent to actual state prison. Since then, theft crimes have increased in CA. “Actual fact” snarky.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            @cj

            That is child’s play compared to the crime stats scandal at LAPD. Stay tuned for that breaking story.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            There are some among us who will never feel comfortable living in the reality-based community.

            The greatest increases in the rate of per capita auto theft between 2011 and 2012 were in North Dakota and Montana.

            The greatest increases in the rate of per capita property crime (including burglary, larceny and theft) were in Nevada, South Dakota and West Virginia.

            Conducting some research prior to posting might help you in the future.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            AB 109 made it impossible for most thieves to be sent to actual state prison. Since then, theft crimes have increased in CA.

            Someone in tune with reality would know where California is.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Repeating an unproven argument doesn’t prove it, it only demonstrates that the person who is repeating it isn’t smart enough to know better.

            Again, California has lower per capita property crime rates than the national average. I realize that this doesn’t fit conveniently into your narrative, but facts rarely do.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            It is a fact. You have talked around it, but not addressed it. You are welcome to accept or reject it. I really don’t care either way.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I’m not sure how AB 109 explains the increase in property crimes rates in Montana, Nevada, West Virginia, or the Dakotas.

            I also don’t see how it explains that California has below-average rates of burglary and other property crimes. Or perhaps you would like to give credit to AB 109 for California being a place where one is less likely to get burgled than is typical in the United States.

            I realize that this point will fly above your head, but it isn’t possible to understand data without appropriate context. If you keep looking for simplistic magic bullets, then don’t be surprised when your arguments get shot down.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            That is exactly why it is a waste of time to prove a fact to you. It is irrelevant to you. Your facile mind will always resort to clever sophistry. You have no concept of what is happening in California.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            If you could just pull yourself by your bootstraps and figure out how to make a decent argument, then this internet thing would be much easier for you.

            It’s not my fault that you can’t articulate a position that can be defended. The embarrassment that you feel should be a hint that you need to try harder. You failed to prove your assertion (as always), and repeating it won’t help.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            And you are simply a egomaniac who believes he is an expert in everything and is therefore immune to argument.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            If using factual data and analysis is an indication of egomania, then count me in.

            The fact is that you can’t explain why auto theft increased between 2011 and 2012 in some states, whether it is in California, North Dakota, Montana or anywhere else that it increased.

            You simply don’t know enough to have an opinion. Yet that doesn’t stop you from offering an opinion which is apparently based upon a whole lot of nothing. You wouldn’t know how to research a topic if someone dropped a library on your head.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            The real problem is that you are not persuaded by facts and that you have such a long history of being a jerk. Don’t believe me. It’s OK.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Actual fact…

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Since you are always a snarky dik…

  • avatar
    zaxxon25

    Stuntman Mike is going to be seriously pissed

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Looks like “Murder Nova” from the “Street Outlaws” reality TV show.

    It was an incredibly $hitty thing for thieves to steal the kids’ car. The reality, however, is that it probably shouldn’t have been parked where it could be boosted, especially if it looked like the attached picture. Cars like that draw thieves like lanterns draw moths.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    It was probably stolen by a neighbor who was tired of seeing a POS car get tiny upgrades done over seven years time, while it leaked oil and other fluids all over the place on a decent street.

    Seriously, put that crap away in the garage. Or leave it at the school shop.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Yowsah….

      It is America CoreyDL. If it is a street legal, properly licensed and registered car, ‘it’ deserves the same rights and respect as your….Acura? You may not have to like it or appreciate it, but show some respect.

      I would rather the thieves remove the faux Luxo Acura, Lexi from my neighborhood than the one car that was teaching young men and women some skill, initiative, and problem solving. Any fool can save his cash and buy the car of his dreams, not many can say they have their blood sweat and tears properly placed in and around the car from construction and mistakes made then rectified.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        It’s an Infiniti, for the record!

        I don’t agree with your assertion that because I did not “build” my car and get my hands dirty, that I’m a “fool who saved my cash,” like that’s some easy thing to do nowadays. Don’t imply that I didn’t work for the money.

        And if it doesn’t have a hood, is it then street legal? And even if legal, it’s still a big eyesore. Look what it’s done to the pavement underneath it. And it hurts the value of every house around it – houses paid for with others hard work/sweat/tears.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      In my neighborhood, no cars are allowed on the street between 2 AM and 4 AM unless you get approval from the Police Department.

      I personally dislike that my neighbors parking on the street during the day when they have perfectly good detatched garages and long driveways. I don’t care if its the barely working Escort Sport driven by a 16 year old, or the Jeep SRT across the street. Oh, but their garages are filled with crap and they are too lazy to put the car behind the house.

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        This is part of the problem in California. Nobody puts their cars in the garage because their garage is a dumping ground for their unused crap. It’s in the garage because houses in CA don’t have basements.
        So, no basement for crap, crap in garage, car in street. When I lived there I never met a single soul who owned a home that parked their car in the garage. It seems so very odd for a place with such a strong car culture, but it seems that the culture of keeping old junk is stronger.
        I am a firm believer that cars go in the garage and crap goes in the garbage can.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I should show some Californians my house, where the garage is IN the basement. Lose they mind!

          I throw away everything as well. No boxes of old junk, only important big ticket item boxes with receipts inside. Everything else is trash or donated.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I need a weekend and my Sawzall so that all my neighbors will be able to parke in their garages.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          “I am a firm believer that cars go in the garage and crap goes in the garbage can.”

          Amen. I live on a dead end street in a very nice city. There are about 20 houses on the dead end. Only two houses park both of their cars in their garages (we all have at least a two car garage). This is not because people have workshops or lack basements either. So. Much. Crap.

          We have an extremely good recycling program in Southern Oakland County. I have no idea why people do not utilize it.

        • 0 avatar
          319583076

          Keep the image of a crap-filled garage/basement in mind the next time someone is blathering on about consumer spending and the economy.

  • avatar
    Curt in WPG

    Biggest question for me is which of this guy’s students will get to bang a young Annie Potts?

  • avatar
    maxxcool7421

    Idiots, you seriously left what looks to be a 600-700hp car without any theft prevention devices !*on the street*! in LA … ???

  • avatar
    Hummer

    And I’m sitting here, house unlocked, all of my vehicles with keys in the ignition ready to go, laughing at people that *want* to live in such a crime ridden place.

    Knock on wood, I do have dogs and guns by side, which I hope to never need.

    • 0 avatar
      greaseyknight

      Yep, thats how I grew up, we’d generally only lock the garage/shop when the whole family would be gone. Nothing in the house had any value compared to my dad’s tools. Keys generally got left in the ignition or the console, its a real pain having to hunt up the correct set.

      Since I moved to the “Big City” I started locking my stuff up, but I want OUT!

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    They got 4 more detectives working on the case.. Got ‘em workin in shifts!

  • avatar
    -Nate

    .
    @ Pch101 :

    You’re assuming :

    A. he can read .

    B. he lives in California (a goofy place yes but still great to live and die here).

    C. he cares or is able to understand facts , logic and so on….

    Nevertheless it’s fun to read along .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    Just like the movie, I bet the teacher was in on it! :)


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