A Texas man can finally end his 42-year search for his stolen 1967 Austin Healey sports car thanks to his persistence, a couple detectives and eBay. The City of Brotherly Love was none too friendly to former resident Robert Russell. His car, which held sentimental value to him and his wife, was heisted from his Philadelphia, Pennsylvania home in October of 1970.
But he never gave up searching for the vehicle. A LASD release says Russell, ‘continued his periodic search off and on for these many years, including on Internet websites such as eBay.’
In May 2012, Russell spotted what he thought was his car listed for sale on eBay and located at a car dealership in East Los Angeles. After comparing the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) listed in the ad to that printed in the car’s Certificate of Title, Russell knew he’d found her.
Russell contacted the East Los Angeles Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and Sheriff’s Detective Carlos Ortega along with the Philadelphia Police Department’s Major Crimes Auto Squad investigated the theft, finding that the VIN had been incorrectly entered into the system at the time of the theft report. The car, therefore, was never listed as stolen.
Ortega recovered the vehicle from the dealership, ‘intact and in fair condition,’ says the release, ‘although requiring some exterior and interior work.’
Russell and his wife ventured to East LA several days later to reclaim the Austin Healey, which was swiftly transported back to Texas. Estimated to be worth $23,000, the Austin Healey was originally purchased for $3000.