10 of the weirdest stolen car stories we've ever heard
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Getting your car stolen can be pretty gut-wrenching. One minute you’re planning mods, dreaming of road trips, basking in the glory of your multi-year no-claims bonus and the next minute, it's gone. If cars are the centre of your world (and they are for me) then life doesn't get much worse than this. But what if that was only the beginning of the story? Keep reading for 10 of the craziest stolen car stories you'll ever hear.
Stolen Audi RS5 almost nearly outruns police helicopter
Back in 2011, an Audi owner awoke to find his RS5 missing from the driveway, stolen. A year later, the same car was speeding away from police in the hands of a career criminal. He'd just attempted to nick a cash machine and when police gave chase, he scarpered onto the UK's M6 motorway cranking the car up to speeds of up to 180mph. Even the police helicopter couldn't keep up. Well, it wouldn't have if the crook hadn't turned off onto slower roads, parking up in full view of the copper chopper.
Porsche recovered 27 years after it’s stolen
A dog walker discovered this Porsche 924 parked on its roof at the bottom of a gully back in 2017. A simple (if rather serious) road traffic accident? Yes and no. The car had actually been stolen 27 years earlier and never seen again. Who knows exactly what happened but it seems whoever stole it had a little too much fun (and not enough talent) binning it down an embankment. What we do know is that the thief survived as remains found near the accident turned out to be deer bones, not human. Ah well, you can't have everything.
Stolen Corvette turns up 33 years later
When George Talley parked up his Corvette in 1981 little did he know he wouldn't see it again for 33 years. The car was stolen minutes later and having filed a police report, Talley assumed that would be the end of the matter. But 33 years later, police spotted the car's dodgy VIN and traced it back to its rightful owner. It gets better though, because GM got wind of the story and – touched by the rightful owner's love for his car – not only shipped it 1,000 miles free of charge but also gave it a complete restoration. Now that's service!
Stolen Lamborghinis take each other out
Car thieves aren't always the most intelligent individuals as this next story proves. Having eyed a pair of Lamborghini Urus parked in front of a posh dealership in Wayland, Massachusetts, a group of teens took a brick to the window, grabbing the keys to both. How do you get caught in cars this quick? Well, you take each other out on an intersection, obviously (as seen in this CCTV footage), dump the cars and leg it straight into the arms of the law. Take 'em away, boys.
McLaren Mercedes SLR part of million-pound criminal haul
While some criminals settle for stealing the odd car here and there, others turn their criminality into a business worth millions. Our next thief neatly slots into the latter category. Back in 2007, he was responsible for stealing 34 luxury cars including a McLaren Mercedes SLR, which, in a slight lapse of judgment, he filmed himself driving. Wanting to give police a fair crack of the whip, the crim also nicked UK socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson's BMW 645i, easily linked to him because her mail and receipts were found sitting on his coffee table. Doh!
Stolen Audi RS6 rams police
It's the summer of 2016 and UK police are in pursuit of an Audi RS6 in what turns out to be one of the most horrifying car chases ever captured on film. The stolen car is making its getaway from a pizza takeaway robbery when it's picked up by a police BMW. Despite having double the horsepower, the crooks can't shake the police Beemer and instead reverse into it, hard, caving in the radiator.
The police try to knock it off the road but the four-wheel drive-Audi shakes them off (despite having at least one puncture), making good its escape but not before ramming another squad car. Fortunately, the gang was caught robbing a post office three months later and sentenced to a total of 28 years in prison.
Crazed former soldier steals tank
Okay, so there's no car in this story but there is a whole lot of crazy. Proving exactly why methamphetamine and tanks don't mix, Shawn Nelson (high on the former) pinched this WW2 M6 and proceeded to run over cars, fire hydrants, traffic lights and, well, basically anything that got in his way, with San Diego police powerless to stop him. Thankfully, after trying and failing to knock down a pedestrian overpass, Nelson attempted to cross a central reservation, beaching the tank and allowing police to scramble on top, open the hatch and bring the chase to an end.
The buried Ferrari
It's 1974 and Rosendo Cruz is walking his wife back to their beloved Ferrari Dino which they'd parked just a few hours earlier, only it's gone. Where? Nobody knows, but Cruz reports the theft, his insurance company coughs up the cash and that's where this story should end. Of course it doesn't. Four years later kids digging in their garden strike something hard, something that looks like a car's roof. They flag down police who return with digging equipment and unearth Cruz's missing Dino.
The car thieves had gone to some effort to preserve the car, covering it in plastic sheets and stuffing towels into its intakes. Despite this – and not helped by the fact the dozy crooks left a window open – very little of the Ferrari was salvageable and it was later sold for less than £8,000, galling when a mint example now fetches more than £300,000.
The car that broke the insurance industry
This story isn't so much about an individual car as it is about an entire model range – Ford Cosworths. Arguably the first car that brought supercar performance to the masses, the Sierra (and later Escort) Cosworth was so quick and so easy to steal it became extremely popular with criminals, and thefts of the car went through the roof. As a result, some insurance companies gave five-figure quotes rendering Cosworths uninsurable to all but the most committed Blue Oval fans. The problem was so bad, the police had to invest in their own Cosworths just to keep up with the marauding thieves – so not all bad for plod, then.
Austin Healey appears on eBay 42 years after being stolen
When Robert Russell's 1967 Austin Healey was stolen in 1970 he probably didn't expect it would reappear 42 years later. No doubt dreaming of one day replacing his stolen sports car, Russell happened upon a car that looked exactly like the one he lost decades earlier. They were more than alike – it was his car. In his rush to report it stolen, Russell had given police the wrong VIN making it untraceable. Luckily for him, he did still have the original title and the car was soon back where it belonged.