It’s late November 2017 in Oregon, and a strange report summons police to a remote forest. A car has been discovered abandoned in the woods, with unidentified bones nearby. But when the cops take a closer look, they realize that the vehicle has been listed as stolen for 26 years.
On January 20, 1991, police in Jackson County, Oregon, received notification of a seemingly run-of-the-mill crime. Apparently, a 1979 Porsche 924 coupe had been stolen from Southside Cinema, a movie theater in the Rogue Valley city of Medford, some 27 miles from the California border.
First produced in Germany in 1976, the Porsche 924 was the first of the company’s vehicles to afford buyers the option of a fully automatic transmission. Although it was derided by many for not being sufficiently sporty, it proved popular with buyers. In 1979 some 10,000 models made their way onto American driveways.
When the Medford Porsche went missing in 1991, its owner must have held out little hope of ever seeing it again. And for 26 years, this seemed to be the case. Then, on November 28, 2017, police in Jackson County received a telephone call. Apparently, a man had been walking his dog in a rural area of Trail, OR, when he stumbled across a bizarre sight.
According to reports, the man was following his dog through an area of woodland close to the state’s Crater Lake National Park. Suddenly, he glimpsed an overturned vehicle through the trees. At 2:39 p.m. he contacted police to report his discovery, and officers arrived to investigate the next day.
Lying down an embankment, the vehicle appeared to have been in its current location for some time. But how had it ended up there, and why had no accident been reported? When officers investigated further the mystery deepened: this was the same Porsche that had been reported stolen in Medford almost 27 years earlier.
Because the car could not be seen from the road, it was difficult to tell how long it might have been there. According to police, the vehicle’s registration ran out back in 1991 – the same year that it was reported stolen. Had it been unceremoniously dumped soon after the crime, or had something more sinister taken place?
Shockingly, police were in for another surprise after a number of bones were discovered near the wreckage. Initially fearful that they could be of human origin, investigators examined the remains for clues. Thankfully, they soon established that the bones were from a deer.
Interestingly, it’s not the first time that a stolen vehicle has been rediscovered many years after its disappearance. In fact, back in 1978, children playing outside a house in Los Angeles, CA, made an unexpected discovery. Buried in the mud, they uncovered what appeared to be a car roof.
Luckily, detectives Lenny Carroll and Joe Sabas happened to be passing and stopped to offer their assistance. After summoning help, they set to work. Eventually, they succeeded in digging up an unlikely treasure. Somehow, a Dino 246 GTS worth around $70,000 in today’s money had been buried in a front yard.
Remarkably, the vehicle was said to be in good repair. Soon, police were able to trace the vehicle back to Rosendo Cruz, a plumber from Alhambra, CA. Apparently, he had initially bought the car for his wife as a birthday gift. However, it was reported stolen on December 7, 1974.
Despite its bizarre burial, investigators were unable to come up with any leads to account for the Dino’s missing years. Allegedly, neighbors couldn’t remember any suspicious activity, and the current tenants of the home had no idea how the car ended up buried beneath their land. Eventually, the vehicle was returned to Cruz’s insurance company, which had already paid out a $22,500 claim.
Five years earlier, the owner of a 1968 Chevrolet Corvette was not quite so lucky when his vehicle was stolen in Manhattan, New York. Without insurance, the crime had dealt Alan Poster a harsh financial blow. However, in 2006, officials in Long Beach, CA, were carrying out routine checks on a vintage car bound for Sweden when they realized it was the same vehicle that had disappeared 37 years ago.
In time, Poster was tracked down to Northern California, where he had established himself as a successful businessman. And because he had been unable to claim on any insurance, the vehicle still belonged to him. According to reports, he was thrilled to be reunited with his beloved Corvette, even though some modifications had been carried out over the years.
On the other side of the Atlantic, a Peugot 104 was recovered by police in Châlons-en-Champagne, a city some 100 miles to the east of Paris, France. In August 2017 a drought caused water levels in the region to drop, and the vehicle was spotted in a local pond.
The vehicle was removed from the water and towed to a nearby garage. There, local mechanic Franck Ménard was impressed by its condition. “It still looks like a 104,” he told The Daily Telegraph in 2017. “The paintwork is still blue and there’s still chrome on the bumpers. It’s amazing. Considering how long it was underwater, it’s really well preserved.”
In fact, the vehicle had been reported stolen as far back as 1979, almost 40 years before it was rediscovered. Amazingly, police were still able to track down the original owner. And even though the car technically belongs to her insurer, she planned to take a trip to see it for old time’s sake.
That same year, a man in Frankfurt, Germany, was reunited with his car for the first time in 20 years. Apparently, the vehicle had been reported stolen in 1997, only to be located two decades later in the garage of a building set for demolition. When the vehicle was found to be impeding the development, it was reported to the authorities.
Eventually, police were able to track down the car’s original owner. However, this time a crime didn’t appear to have been committed. Instead, it seems that the driver simply forgot where he had parked his vehicle. Touchingly, the 76-year-old owner enjoyed a brief reunion with his vehicle before the rusted wreck was relegated to scrap.
Back in Jackson County, police are still trying to trace the owner of the stolen Porsche 924. Meanwhile, the mysterious vehicle remains in the Oregon woods. “The vehicle’s location on steep, muddy terrain presents logistical and environmental concerns for removal,” the local sheriff’s department said in a statement in November 2017. “Officials are working to determine the best course of action.”