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Woman Recovers Stolen Chevy Nova SS After 13 Messy Years

After spotting the stolen Nova on Craigslist, it still took years before the rightful owner was reunited with her beloved vehicle.
FotoSleuth via Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-2.0

Common sense would dictate that if you come across your stolen car for sale online, getting it back should be a relatively straightforward matter. For Cristin Elliot of Oregon, however, that was sadly anything but the case when she found her beloved Chevy Nova SS after several years on the hunt.

According to Oregon Live, the story is a sad and frustrating one that winds over a full 13 years. In September 2010, Elliott parked her Nova outside a friend’s house while she attended a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. As is so often the case with street parking, after two months, the vehicle disappeared.

Heartbroken, Elliot refused to let go. She began hunting for her lost ride almost immediately after getting out of the program. A full nine years went by before the car miraculously turned up for sale on Craigslist. Calling the police to report the vehicle, Elliot could have been forgiven for expecting a timely reunion with her muscle car. Sadly, while authorities were able to secure the vehicle, that rendezvous would be put on hold for four long years.

The root of the issue was due to bureaucratic fumbling by the authorities. Reportedly, the car had been placed up for sale by a dealer named Jeremy Conroy, who believed he had purchased it legitimately from a man named Andy Maes for $10,000. The title was missing when Conroy bought the car, but he was promised that one could be obtained.

Ultimately, the DMV issued a new title after a cursory check on the vehicle, which, oddly enough, didn’t reveal it was stolen. That was all thanks to a policy that saw older car thefts routinely purged from the government database. Notably, though, the new title listed the car as “Totaled, Reconstructed,” which spooked Conroy. Allegedly, when Conroy tried to get Maes to buy the car back, he stopped returning calls. Conroy then elected to list the car on Craigslist, where it came to Elliot’s attention.

Later investigation revealed that the title shouldn’t have been issued anyway, thanks to dodgy paperwork that the DMV should never have accepted. Law enforcement eventually arrested Maes, charging him with the theft of the vehicle, but he ended up walking free on a technicality. Charges were dismissed when no public defender was available to work Maes’ case. Speaking to Oregon Live, though, Maes stated that he had purchased the car from a friend, having paid $2,500 for the vehicle. The title itself, he says, was stolen in an unreported robbery of his home.

Regardless, there was still an ugly situation to deal with regarding possession of the vehicle. Elliot wanted her rightful property back, while Conroy wanted to hang on to the car that he had paid good money for.

In the end, it came down to a court decision. Since Maes never had proper title to the vehicle, he couldn’t legally transfer it to Conroy under Oregon law. The judge stated that Elliot was still the rightful owner of the vehicle, and awarded her possession of her Nova after 13 long years.

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It shows us how a few bureaucratic errors and legal processes can make it getting one’s own property back an absolute minefield. The full story beyond this summary is well worth reading over at Oregon Live. Overall, though, it’s an ending, if not the happiest. Elliot is at the very least overjoyed to be reunited with her baby and is eager to get it cleaned up and running to make up for lost time. That’s something, after all.

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