You might be able to escape the long arm of the law but there’s no getting away from the seemingly boundless reach of social media.
Some bad guys likely learned that lesson this week after deciding to return a very conspicuous vehicle stolen from an Osoyoos home January 27.
Their decision comes on the heels of an online plea from the family of its owner for the motorsports community to be on the lookout for the vehicle. The news chased the hot rod through Western Canada and beyond and resulted in more than 120,000 shares and a reported million views.
“Even though it’s a $100,000 vehicle, or whatever the owner says it’s worth, once it’s been on social media, now it’s essentially worthless to someone else,” explained Sgt. Jason Bayda, area commander for the Osoyoos RCMP detachment confirming reports the vehicle was being returned.
“It’s such a unique vehicle.”
The owner’s daughter, Vanessa Pfannenschmidt, took to Facebook this morning to thank everyone involved in the online hunt, reporting the 1939 Willys Sedan “has been found and we are thrilled!!”
She later added the vehicle was intact.
“The support from the community is unreal,” she said in an interview, adding she shared the news with her father this morning. “It was so nice to hear his voice go from sullen and depressed to happy and excited again.
The hot rod — an Osoyoos man’s passion — was stolen in the wee hours of the night from his home. Local RCMP said the theft was witnessed by a neighbour but went unreported until the morning after.
“A member actually saw this vehicle drive past him while he had another vehicle stopped and didn’t think anything of it other than it was a fancy car with a loud motor,” Sgt. Bayda said last week.
“Had the witness called us, we would have been on that vehicle right away.”
The vehicle is now in the possession of Osoyoos RCMP, which is currently looking at investigative avenues to identify those responsible.
RCMP were not involved in the vehicle’s return, Sgt. Bayda said, explaining the family was able to negotiate that themselves.
“Someone had contacted them — we don’t have names or anything — and all we know is they made a side-deal to get it back,” Sgt. Bayda explained. “They wanted it done as no-a questions-asked kind of thing.”
Not involving RCMP likely all but eliminated any chance of criminal charges, but Sgt. Bayda says he understands the family’s motivation.
“Sometimes getting something back that’s not only of substantial value but also of sentimental value is better than not getting it back but getting charges,” he said.
“I don’t fault them for what they’re doing.”