QOTD: Missing in Action?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

A phone that could only have been lost through the intervention of some kind of malevolent, omnipotent force leads us to today’s question. We’re not concerned with missing cellular devices, of course, no matter how much this author now loathes O’Hare airport — no, there’s a good chance many of you have had the same thing occur with a prized, or perhaps not so prized vehicle.

Which of you have known the pain of seeing your vehicle on the side of a milk carton?

We’ll broaden this question to include all types of disappearances. Anything that inspired sweat beads and heart palpitations, regardless of how long or short the duration, applies. Perhaps your vehicle was spirited away by slim jim-wielding thieves or, if the car in question was a 1980s FWD Chrysler, screwdriver-wielding thieves.

Maybe you parked in the wrong spot and ended up searching the impound lot in a dishevelled state, or perhaps the repo man finally caught up to you. As we saw on Seinfeld, one’s own faulty memory, combined with the soulless, concrete expanse of the modern parking garage, can lead to frustration and unplanned exercise. Badge engineering could easily aggravate the situation, leading to false hope and dead ends. (“Damn, it’s just a LeSabre … or is that a Ninety Eight?”)

How ’bout it, B&B? Did you ever lose (one of) your most precious possessions this way, or is there an even wilder story you’d like to tell us?

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Apr 19, 2018

    I Had a 1979 PE 250 Suzuki dirt bike that was stolen from me in the early 80's. Years later I found out who had stole it. I never really had the chance to track the guy down. Ironically, and extremely tragically, the fellow's teen-aged son was killed while riding a dirt bike. Talk about bad karma.

  • PentastarPride PentastarPride on Apr 19, 2018

    I've never had a car stolen. I live in a great neighborhood; a lot of my neighbors are current and ex-LEO and military. Most of us, including myself, have exterior DVR cameras and all of us have home security systems. My workplace is a corporate building with a secure parking garage and a secure "open" lot. In both scenarios, the opportunities are slim that someone would take my cars. If anything, the risk is there if I'm out shopping, having a bite to eat or taking a trip somewhere. I do wish there were dashcams that were cloud connected by 4G with a camera facing the driver's seat, so even if they attempt to take it off the windshield, sensor is tripped which activates the flash and...they smile for the camera, lol. They could smash it into little bits but it would be too late, the stills would be instantly uploaded to a server far, far away before they even had it fully pried from its mount. I have dashcams on all of my cars but they are useless if the car is stolen unless it is taken by a really dumb idiot and is left intact by the time the police intercepted it. Again, I feel fairly confident that I'm pretty safe. The opportunities just aren't there most of the time and I don't drive anything thieves are looking for--fast, popular or expensive, like a Hemi Charger, a Honda Civic or a late-model BMW, but it has crossed my mind. Two of my vehicles, my Ram and my 200, wouldnt get far. Both have immobilizers. Same for my wife's Subaru. If by some chance they were able to get access to the ignition components (removing the dash would be required on the 200 and the Outback. Easily a two to four hour job, good luck), the engine would start and then shut off after 10 seconds. You'd have to get my keys first. Most other newer cars have this feature (if not all of them). No key, no go.

  • Driver7 Driver7 on Apr 20, 2018

    From 1985 to 1996, I worked in a not-great neighborhood in Washington, D.C. In 1985, my battered 1965 Plymouth Fury was stolen from the company parking lot. It was found, but in a condition only worth selling for scrap. Replaced with a 1977 VW Rabbit, which apparently did not tempt car thieves. In 1989, I made the best auto purchase of my life - '89 Honda Civic DX sedan. In 1990, Honda gets stolen from company lot. I reported the theft to police. And waited. A few days passed. Then the police called - my Honda had been found. Bring a screwdriver, I was told. My car (undamaged except for the broken rear quarter window, thank goodness) was sitting in three inches of water in the middle of the biggest junkyard I'd ever seen. Correction: There was another item missing from my car - the ignition cylinder. Hence the need to bring a screwdriver. Inserted screwdriver into ignition-cylinder hole. Twisted screwdriver. Car starts. (Honda reliability.) I drove home with the screwdriver sticking out of the steering column. Everything went fine - until the screwdriver slipped out, and the steering wheel locked while I was on an exit ramp. Fortunately, the ramp was a constant radius curve, so I had time to pick the screwdriver up, put it back into the ignition, and unlock the steering wheel before I merged onto the highway. Got the ignition cylinder replaced, bought a steering-wheel lock, and proceeded to drive that wonderful car until 2010, by which time it gone more than 248,000 miles.

  • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Apr 20, 2018

    Got a helluva stolen boat story! In 2014, my parents purchased an immaculate 2001 Sea Ray 320 Sundancer, a 32’ cabin cruiser. Dual 6.2 MerCruiser 6.2L inboards (with 80 original hours on them; the boat had been out of the water and stored inside for seven years), galley, sleeps six, standup head, the works! Injected engines, with pushbutton starter buttons at the helm; the ignition switches themselves are down in the cabin on the DC power panel, like that found on larger yachts. In addition, there is a breaker which needs to be thrown at each switch before the engines can be started. The boat club to which my parents belong is on the Maumee River southwest of Toledo, eight miles or so from Lake Erie. Not much crime in the area, just the occasional break-ins by kids looking for free beer onboard! My Dad always left the ignition keys on a shelf above the cupboard with the ignition panel, and the cabin unlocked, the reason being that the beer-guzzling kids could do some serious damage trying to break in, and a case of beer is less costly. Until the day before my parents’ 49th wedding anniversary, later that first summer after they had purchased the boat, when my Dad went down for his summer Saturday ritual of washing and puttering around on the boat. My Dad drove in, and..NO BOAT! A group of other club members were standing around talking, and when they saw my Dad pull up, their eyes went as wide as saucers, because they thought that my parents had been dropped off, and had taken the boat for a weekend away! My Dad called the police to file a report, then drove home to start insurance proceedings. Meanwhile, my Mom called me to tell what happened, and I volunteered to go with my Dad to check out the various other marinas on the river and see if anyone had seen anything; my Dad started the tour out at the Coast Guard Station, near the mouth of the Maumee River, where we also filed a report. After a couple hours, we wound up back at their boat club, where my Dad received a phone call that the boat had been recovered by the Coasties at The Docks, a small group of restaurants on the east-side riverfront, across from downtown Toledo. Aside from missing keys, a blown stereo speaker, and, yes, an empty refrigerator, the boat was fine. (Ironically, my Dad and I had driven over an adjacent bridge earlier in the afternoon, and didn’t look over our shoulders!) A detective from the original police agency arrived and dusted for prints, and happened to run into a couple of “acquaintances” who had seen the perpetrators arrive the previous evening on the boat! The detective figured out who the main perp likely was, a local ne’er-do-well with an extensive rap sheet who always managed to stay one step ahead of the law, and whose greatest claim to fame was managing to get away from pursuing officers after he crashed the brand-new Ram pickup he had stolen, and which burned to a cinder! (Unfortunately, they couldn’t find decent prints at the helm, nor decent DNA off a drinking straw which had been discarded, so this idiot got away again!) But they managed to figure out how to start the boat (including the stuff down in the cabin with the ignitions), untie (all without arousing suspicion), then managed to take a joyride down the river, dock the boat without damaging it, and then left it behind after likely discarding the keys, all after a night of partying onboard! A couple re-keyed locks and a repaired cabin door later, which the perpetrators had locked behind them, my Dad and everyone at that boat club locks their boat cabins and takes the keys with them, and last year, they installed a webcam system to monitor the property 24/7.