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VW bus stolen 35 years ago discovered bound for the Netherlands

November 5, 2009 | 12:43 pm

VW bus 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 mint-condition bus on Oct. 19 came during a routine inspection of several Volkswagens that were being shipped by a U.S. restorer to customers in Europe. The vehicle identification number of the blue-and-white bus, which was swiped from a repair shop in Spokane on July 12, 1974, was still in police computers.

“Pretty amazing, isn’t it?” customs spokesman Jaime Ruiz said today when the recovery was announced.

The restorer, who was not identified, isn’t a suspect in the theft, authorities said.

“He’s a victim himself. He was an innocent purchaser,” said California Highway Patrol investigator Mike Maleta.

Maleta said Spokane police couldn’t locate the woman who once owned the bus.

“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.”


-- Mike Anton in Orange County

Photo credit: U.S. Department of Homeland Security