Stolen Car, 1,192,809 and The Warm and Fuzzy Car Story

In 2008 my car was stolen right in front of my house. It was a 91 Honda Civic, near the end of its life. I would take it to the beach with a surfboard on top and it would sit there and just look out at the waves and slowly rust away from the top down. Its job was to hang out at the ocean, not get upset about having sand everywhere and take kids to school. You can read the two posts, Stolen Car and 1,192,809 that I wrote back then below, but here is another car story that turns out a bit better and sheds light on a nobler part of the human experience. Something for the “Datebook” section of your local paper.

The Warm and Fuzzy Car Story

This summer we were trying to sell a 2007 Honda Civic. Over 200,000 miles but in really great shape. It was my son’s car that he drove off to college for a year and now we really did not need it and wanted to lower the family car insurance bill. I had tried everything. Craigslist. A sign on the window. Nothing was working. Every now and then someone would email me trying to push the price down a thousand dollars. Sorry buddy.

Then I got an email from a guy who wanted to pay cash. I go down a few hundred bucks and two young guys show up at my front door with a stack of hundreds in their hands. It turns out that they work for a painting company in the East Bay and they and their buddies got together to buy a car for one of the new hires, who’s car was stolen at the company picnic. Pretty crazy that cars are stolen in broad daylight. Just when you think the entire planet is dominated by greed, disingenuity and selfishness an act of human kindness broadsides you.

So I counted up the Benjamin’s, we signed the papers and they drove away. Good thing this Honda has an alarm. They may need it.

Stolen Car

2/9/2008 8:55:01 AM

There is nothing so strange as questioning your sanity. The things in life that are most alarming are when you find things out of their place. And so was the day of Friday, February 9, 2008. Same nagging alarm clock. Same race out the door. Same eggs on the house. When you realize that your car is not where you had parked it the night before.

It is but a small docile thing. Never can do more than seventy, maybe downhill. These thieves have no imagination! A better car would be one that can actually gain momentum.

To the Car Thieves
So, as long as you have the wreck. The glove box has a bit of damage. You know raising kids and carting them off to school every day tends to wear on a car. A few too many soccer cleats in the glove box, or a pissed of 6 year old can do some real damage. Also, the dash is way past its prime. The golden California sun has been pounding on it for 17 years. A crack here. A crack there. Remember, the car was made before cup-holders so there has to be about a gallon of coffee and a pint of half-and-half under that plastic dash. Actually for a year or so the car was but a house for mice. Way in the hills of Sonoma it sat as its owners were nowhere in site. The mice had a great time pooping and peeing in the air ducts and heater box, so you may want to roll down the windows from time-to-time. Just a simple public health suggestion.

Change the oil. The back windshield wiper should be changed. And while you’re at it, get some new floor mats… at least for the front. And I want the real ones from the dealer, not the crappy ones from Grand Auto. Let’s pimp this ride for when you have to return the beast.

One more thing. The gas gauge sometimes gives out. So you may at some point get stranded. Don’t put a gas can full of petrol in the back. Just make sure you fill the gas tank regularly. Best wishes and take care of her. New oil every 4,000 miles but hopefully she’ll be back home way before then.


2/16/2008 11:21:15 AM

In the United States in 2006 there were 1,192,809 stolen cars reported.
This means that for every 100,000 people, 398.4 cars are stolen.

In 2006 there were 17,034 murders in the US. Since the beginning of the Iraq war there have been 3239 combat US deaths. So, there are five times as many murders in the US every year than all the US combat deaths since the Iraq war began.

Of course the Iraqi civilian death toll is anywhere from 100,000 to a million – which is a genocide that rarely if ever makes it to the front page of the news.


On Monday, February 10th a message was left on my answering machine. The Richmond police department had found my car that was stolen from right in front of my house the previous Friday. The thieves had stripped the doors, the headlights and taillights, the seats, the radio, the battery and assorted odds and ends. We got up early and went up to the new Richmond police department building. In front of the building was a bizarre scene. There was a backpack and some clothes and a significant amount of blood on the sidewalk. A police officer was standing there enjoying his morning coffee with a co-worker. They were talking as though a bloody mess ten yards away was normal. Was this some sort of strange psychology experiment? Should we bring this to the attention of the officer? In the end, we said nothing and probably failed the test. We walked straight into the spotless new, pristine police department lobby. Stainless steel and glass were everywhere. We filled out the necessary paperwork and then drove to the towing company a few miles away. We paid them $300 so that they could keep our car. It was a sad way for this old car to go. Sort of like an old lady losing her life to a bunch of muggers, when she had only five bucks and some really nasty Kleenex in her purse. We did find some evidence as to who may have stolen the car. A Yahoo map with a phone number on it dated the same day the car was stolen – all a bit peculiar. Recently, I relayed this information to Richmond police department but I am not sure why I bothered. They have their hands full. They have to clean up the bloody mess on the front walk of their station. Police departments around here do not pursue stolen car crimes. Period.

To the Car Thieves
So you actually did have a plan! You wanted my crappy seats! Cloth seats from a seventeen year old car that has been to the beach a thousand times. Good thinking! Good luck with all the surf wax that is impregnated into the headrests. If you figure out a way to get that off please send me an email with your magic formula. You also had a thing for the doors. They were nice white doors but just so you know, the windows leak. If you see a dark cloud around, it is probably best to pull the beast into a garage. Nothing like a moldy smelly car. Gives you that authentic, been camping for three weeks, road-trip vibe. The CD changer was pretty good and the CDs were fine but to tell you the truth I was a bit sick of them and have them all as MP3s. Whichever ones you do not like, just mail them back. You know my address as copies of the insurance and title info were in the glove box. The battery was less then a year old so that was a good idea. The floor carpet was a bad idea. In fact if I were so dense as to re-outfit this $1800 Kelly Blue Book vehicle, I would have taken out the seats, the doors and carpet (basically all the stuff you stripped – minus the odometer) and gotten new stuff. It’s funny how some people find value in things that are past their prime. The thing that was probably of greatest value in this car where the engine and tires. These you passed on.

Seeing this car all stripped down was actually interesting. It was a bit like that feeling one gets when moving out of an apartment. After all your crap is moved out and you see the morning sunlight bounce off of the nice hardwood floors and delicious open space you wonder why the hell you wanted to move out in the first place. Lastly, I would like to thank you for leaving my driving glasses in the glove box. You put them in the case – a classy final act of thoughtfulness and empathy. Perhaps there is hope for you after all.