8 Apr 2013

Yellow Beetle stolen from Jalopnik journalist, who uses his website to find it again!

Jason Torchnisky works for Jalopnik.  Last Thursday he posted an article about his beloved 1973 Beetle being stolen.  It started with the words, "I just walked out to the front of my house where my 1973 Volkswagen Beetle was parked and stopped dead in my tracks, confronted by an ugly void where my car was sitting. It's gone, and I'm on hold with the police as we speak, and I feel sick."

Torchinsky had owned the Beetle since he was 18.  He was absolutely gutted at its being stolen and asked Los Angeles based Jalopnik readers to help find the car and get it back.  So he wrote the article, explaining exactly what it looked like and why it meant so much to him.

Lots of readers commented, lots of people said they'd keep an eye out for it.  On Friday he posted another article, still pleading for help, and said, "I've called every impound lot, entered the license plate into databases, combed adjoining and sketchier neighborhoods, made and distributed flyers, Facebooked, Tweeted, placed Craigslist ads, and anything else I could think to try. "

And then, yesterday afternoon a reader called Jake posted this comment under the last article: "I know where your car is. I saw it driving today and I have pictures. How can I get in contact with you?"

Jake posted this photo, Torchinsky sent Jake his phone number.  All seemed to be good.
And then Jake disappeared.  We found out later he'd gone to work.  Torchinsky posted the photos under yet another article and the readership went into a frenzy, using Google Earth streetview to try and track down the street in East Los Angeles where the Beetle was parked.

Hundreds of comments were posted, with readers checking out all aspects of the photo in minute detail.  And then, finally, 'sfmikee' exclaimed 'I FOUND IT' and posted the exact street view file, which also showed the blue Toyota FJ parked in the same space.

The address was established, and Torchinski phoned the police.  It was his Beetle.  It had been stolen.  It had been found.  The final article was updated with the following, a mere 2 hours after it was originally published, "Thanks to everyone for the assistance. Jason and the police are with the car right now. Follow up story coming as soon as Jason sorts this all out, but obviously you're all wonderful."

A heartwarming story and one in which the power of social media, rather than the police, found a stolen car in 3 days.