Classic Ford Thunderbird stolen in 1976 recovered


The owner of a 1956 Ford Thunderbird that was stolen from Palo Alto 31 years ago was surprised but also delighted to hear Thursday that his car had been located in Southern California, apparently none the worse for the wear.

Ronald Leung is making plans to travel to Ventura County next week to retrieve his long-missing car.

Leung is a retired San Mateo County Sheriff's Department Deputy who also had been a Palo Alto police officer. He lives in Palo Alto. He owns an auto repair shop in Milpitas and had owned one in Palo Alto.

The California Highway Patrol officer who discovered the car's hard-to-find vehicle identification number (VIN) said the car is in "perfect, original condition" with only 24,979 miles on the odometer.

The car came to the attention of the CHP when a Southern California woman bought it on eBay from a man in Ohio and had it shipped to her. When she went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a new license plate, DMV couldn't find the VIN and sent her to a CHP officer, Christopher Throgmorton, who specializes in finding VINs on older cars.

That's when it was discovered that the car had been stolen from Palo Alto in 1976.

The Palo Alto Police Department wasn't able to find the original police report from 1976 but later found a reference to it in a database, identifying Leung as the owner.

— Don Kazak


Like this comment
Posted by MadOak
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2007 at 7:40 pm

That's so completely terrible for the Ventura couple that bought the car! The Chronicle said the car was worth more than $20K. Now those poor Venturites have nothing, and their only hope is suing the internet guy in Ohio? Sucks, sucks, sucks.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2007 at 8:12 pm

Maybe they can sue EBay, I am sure they won't want the publicity for fencing stolen goods.

Like this comment
Posted by joyce
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 22, 2007 at 4:45 am

There ought to be some recourse for this, although it will likely be a legal expensive mess for the CA people. The Ohio people were at the least selling stolen goods.

I would like to see a followup story on where the Ohio people got the car, and if they attempted to register it.

I can say from experience that ebay is of no help when fraud is committed on less expensive items.

Some enterprising insurance company ought to be offering validation of legal ownership of big ticket items on ebay for a fee.

Like this comment
Posted by Danny
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 22, 2007 at 10:02 am

I've been lucky enough (knock on wood) to never have a car stolen, but I've heard many horror stories from others. One friend had her car stolen only to get a call from the police several hours later that the car had been found completely wrecked some 30 miles away.

I'm happy for Mr. Leung to have gotten his car back in good shape -- and what a car it is! At least this is one auto-theft horror story with a happy ending.

Like this comment
Posted by prankster
a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2007 at 5:06 pm

To PAOL Editor
What was so awful about my post that you not only had to delete it, but you had to remove all reference to it even having been posted?

Exactly what part of the terms of service were violated by my post?

Like this comment
Posted by Loura
a resident of Monroe Park
on Jun 23, 2007 at 9:30 pm

I am so glad that they found the car. I would want a happy ending for my car if it ever was stolen!

Like this comment
Posted by Sheri
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 24, 2007 at 4:46 pm

I think that is the coolest thing ever. Imagine being that guy who finally gets his car back, when he thought it was lost forever!

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2007 at 5:00 pm

I would love a follow up story on what is going to happen to the thieves and how they are going to be tried. Also, if the buyer on ebay is going to get the money back?

Like this comment
Posted by prankster
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2007 at 9:58 pm

paol editor
still waiting for reply - don't you think if you're going to delete my post, it is fair upon request to at least explain which Terms Of Service you felt my post was not abiding by?

And why was the entire post deleted? Did the entire post not abide by Terms? Why not just delete the offending portion (whatever it was) as you normally do?

Like this comment
Posted by Confused
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 24, 2007 at 10:16 pm

I thought California has a statute of limitations for theft. I don’t see how any criminal charges can be brought against anyone. I don’t even see why the Ohio couple is loosing the car if they are good faith purchasers. Title has to be quieted sometime.

Like this comment
Posted by tbird56
a resident of another community
on Oct 2, 2007 at 9:10 am

Hear is a brief followup on the Tbird. The buyer's did receive there money back and the sellers were unaware of the car being stolen as it had been registered in two different states. The car was bought by the seller from a thunderbird dealer in Oregon, which at that point the car was a wreck. The seller restored it and the ironic thing is had it registered in the state they lived in, with a California title some ten years ago. Ebay was not helpful at all in the matter at least from the seller's side. All I read was poor buyers but looks like poor seller's have had to go thru much more. Good news is the seller's were reimbursed by insurance. But not without a fight. figures

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Burger chain Shake Shack to open in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 16 comments | 4,258 views

The Cost of Service
By Aldis Petriceks | 1 comment | 972 views

This time we're not lying. HONEST! No, really!
By Douglas Moran | 5 comments | 517 views

Couples: When Wrong Admit It; When Right; Shut Up
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 447 views

One-on-one time
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 397 views