Aaron DiManna
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Car Stolen 27 Years Ago Found in Ohio’s Maumee River

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1984 Buick Century, one year older than the stolen model recovered from the Maumee River
Like this one, but fresh from a river
Photo: RL GNZLZ via CC

Returning to your car after dinner or a movie to find that it’s no longer there is a nightmare. For one man in Defiance, Ohio, that nightmare managed to stretch for nearly three decades. The good news is that the vehicle, which was stolen 27 years ago, has finally been recovered. The bad news is that it was found mangled beyond recognition at the bottom of the Maumee River.


Keep this car out of the river: The 2020 Regal TourX


How it started

On Feb. 18, workers for a construction crew began removing stone from the bottom of the river for use in a nearby bridge project when they found something that was decidedly not a rock. They contacted the local police department, which seems like the right thing to do when you pull a crumpled up sedan from the bottom of a river. Miraculously, the car still had its license plate, so the officers assigned to the case were able to look up the stolen vehicle report.

The report listed the sedan as a 1983 Buick Century Custom that was reported stolen from somewhere in Defiance on March 15, 1993. Unfortunately, that’s where the investigation hit a roadblock. Apparently, due to complications with an upgrade made to the police station’s report writing systems sometime in the last 27 years, they were unable to find any information about who owned the vehicle originally.


How it ended

A few days later, after some clever sleuthing, officials were able to identify the Buick’s owner by searching archived news reports at the local public library. The original article states that the vehicle was taken from the parking lot behind a local bar, and was valued by the owner at $1,500 — which is $2,677 accounting for inflation.

Again, there’s bad news and good news. The bad news is that — in addition to the car’s remnants looking like a ball of yarn that somehow managed to rust — there’s absolutely no way for the owner to know who took his Buick for a joyride off a bridge 27 years ago. The good news is that he can now put this chapter of his life behind him, and spend no more sleepless nights pondering the fate of his ’83 Century Custom.


If anyone could fix that stolen Century: It would be a certified technician