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Cars go missing every year, and many unfortunate car owners never see their vehicles again. Getting stolen cars back is undoubtedly a huge blessing, especially if it is still in good condition. Sometimes, though, you can find some weird car news that reports cars being returned even after all hopes are lost of ever seeing the car again. Such is the case with a 1964 Chevrolet Corvette.

A 1964 Chevy Corvette is returned after 40 years

1964 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible model parked on a gravel forest path
1964 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

The story of Modesto Fleming and her car is one to be filed under weird car news. According to Yahoo, Fleming had her C2 Corvette stolen back in 1976 while living in Anaheim, California. She believed her car was gone for good but was greatly surprised when she got her car back in Oct. 2016, 40 years later. 

At a car show, someone pointed out that the VIN of the 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray didn’t belong to a Stingray. That VIN was assigned to a 1964 Impala. The discrepancy in the number was enough for a police officer to verify with the National Insurance Crime Bureau that the Stingray had been stolen many years before. 

The officer who made the discovery said, “The number returned to a 1964 Chevy Corvette that was an unrecovered stolen vehicle out of Anaheim Police Department in Sept. 1976. I contacted Anaheim and advised them of the situation. They then located the victim from 1976, who is currently living in Arizona, and told her we had her car.”

The man who had the car when it was discovered to be stolen received the vehicle as a gift from his wife in 1987. His wife bought it from a dealership that later went out of business. 

Getting your stolen car back can depend on your region  

Getting a stolen car like the 1964 Chevy Corvette back after 40 years is weird car news because most stolen vehicles are never recovered. Value Penguin reports that about 1 in 5 cars are eventually recovered. Unfortunately, a third of the lucky car owners who get their vehicles back have to deal with an average of $1,490 worth of damage. In 2018, it took about 11 days on average to recover 20% of stolen vehicles, and 12% of auto thefts resulted in an arrest. 

The likelihood of getting your stolen car back can depend on your region. Car owners in the Midwest have a 24% chance of recovering their vehicle, while the national average is 20%. Unfortunate car owners in the Northeast only have a 15% chance of seeing their cars again, but it typically only takes a week to get the vehicles back. Interestingly, it is the more expensive cars that are stolen in the South, specifically trucks. 

Knowing these statistics may make you wonder what you can do to prevent your car from being stolen. Consumer Reports offers some insight: 

  • Practice smart parking: Park in well-lit areas and never leave your car running or unlocked.
  • Add a lock and alarm system: A visible wheel lock is a good deterrent, as well as an aftermarket alarm system. 
  • Install lights at home: Install motion detection lights at home, especially if you park your car in the driveway. 
  • Track your car: A tracking system may not prevent theft, but it can increase the chances of your vehicle being recovered. 

There are more weird stories of returned stolen cars


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The story of Fleming and her Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is not the only story of stolen cars being returned decades later, Hagerty reports. One case was another Corvette stolen in New York in 1969. It was recovered while being loaded onto a container ship headed to Sweden in 2006. The unfortunate part of this case is that the car’s owner was not compensated by his insurance company for his stolen car. 

Another case was that of a 1965 Shelby GT350. It was stolen in 1979 but showed up on eBay almost 30 years later. This was another case when the VIN was the key piece of evidence.