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Burbank couple gets stolen VW back 20 years later, but has to pay

January 23, 2012 | 10:05 am

A 1966 Volkwagen Beetle was reported stolen in 1991

More than 20 years after it was stolen, a Burbank couple may finally be getting their 1966 Volkswagen Beetle back.

But they are forking out $800 to do so.

The case began last summer after Francisco Quiroz of Northridge discovered the vehicle identification number on his red VW didn't match the one on his pink slip. Quiroz contacted the Department of Motor Vehicles, which told him to contact the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP took his statement and kept the car.

They contacted Darlene Peterson, who had reported the car stolen in March 1991. They told her it had been recovered but refused to hand it over, saying that Quiroz had bought the car in good faith, the Burbank Leader reported

John Peterson, Darlene's husband, was less than pleased: "Well, he bought a stolen car."

For his part, Quiroz said he purchased the car in 1999, putting between $5,000 to $6,000 into repair and maintenance over the years.

"I rebuilt the engine," Quiroz said in Spanish. "I invested in the car and reconstructed it -- it wasn't operational when I received it."

A CHP report on the matter stated Quiroz was given the car as payment for work he did for a man who lived in his building, German Hurtado. Hurtado purchased it from an unidentified man in Reseda for $400, who had purchased it from a man in Las Vegas, according to the report.

"This has been a headache," Quiroz said.

The matter culminated in a Van Nuys courtroom Friday, where Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Alice Altoon called Quiroz a second victim in the case.

She asked everyone to go through the receipts Quiroz submitted to determine a fair payment for the vehicle, but the receipts had to have Quiroz's name on them and only those after 2001 would be counted.

The total came to $801.15.

"Everyone can go home happy, or unhappy," Altoon said.

Darlene Peterson offered to write a check immediately, but the parties decided a cashier's check would be given to Quiroz next week at a CHP office.

John Peterson still wasn't thrilled.

"We have to pay $800 to get our car back?" he said.

-- Maria Hsin, Times Community News

Photo: John and Darlene Peterson's 1966 Volkswagen Beetle was stolen in 1991. Credit: Darlene and John Peterson