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VW bus stolen 35 years ago is found in shipping container bound for Europe

Customs agents inspecting a load bound for the Netherlands discovered a 1965 van that disappeared from a Spokane repair shop in 1974. CHP investigators are searching for the thieves.

November 06, 2009|Mike Anton

When U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at the Port of Los Angeles opened a shipping container bound for the Netherlands, they discovered a 1965 Volkswagen bus stolen in Washington state 35 years ago.

Far out, man!

The unusual seizure of the bus on Oct. 19 came during a routine inspection of several Volkswagens that were being shipped by an Arizona restorer to customers in Europe. The vehicle identification number of the bus, which was swiped in Spokane on July 12, 1974, was still in police computers.

"Pretty amazing, isn't it?" customs spokesman Jaime Ruiz said Thursday when the find was announced.

The restorer, who was not identified, isn't a suspect in the long-ago theft, authorities said.

"He's a victim himself. He was an innocent purchaser," said Mike Maleta, an investigator with the California Highway Patrol, who will attempt to trace the vehicle's ownership back through interviews and registration documents.

"I'm going to try my best to find the crook," he said.

Groovy.

Maleta said Spokane police couldn't find the owner.

"Allstate paid her $2,500 or so to settle the claim," he said. "Now it's worth $25,000. . . . It's in pristine condition. It looks like it's brand new. So Allstate wanted it."

Bummer.

--

mike.anton@latimes.com

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