After 22 years you might imagine your stolen car has long since been crashed, destroyed or broken down into parts and shipped abroad, but that may not always be the case.
Derick Goosen was originally separated from his 1988 Toyota Corolla after it was stolen from a complex in Wonderboom in Rietfontein in the Northern Cape province of South African back in 1993. He had been on a night out when he and a friend returned to find it had gone.
The 44-year-old immediately enlisted the help of local police who, sadly, never found the car. And so Goosen embarked on his own search for months, which turned out fruitless. Then in November 2014 police from the area of Limpopo called him up with some unexpected news.
According to reports, a Corolla had been tracked down in a roadblock and Goosen was asked to travel to Polokwane to identify it. As luck would have it, it was his – and even luckier was the fact it was still in one piece.
Speaking to IOL, Goosen said: “The car was still in mint condition; nothing was missing – not even the battery. It’s easy to get to a pound and find your car stripped and missing parts.”
Turns out the Corolla was being used as a taxi when it was confiscated by police during a festive season operation. It had been sold for R22,000 to a metro police officer in that province, which is when the suspicions began.
Upon closer inspection, police noticed the engine number had been tampered with. The owner, who had all the paperwork to say prove she was the owner, was unaware it had been stolen. Thieves had fraudulently changed the engine and vehicle identification numbers to make it harder to trace.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Ronel Otto explained: “She had all the paperwork indicating she was the owner, but she didn’t know it was a stolen car and the information had been changed. The vehicle was recovered in Hlogotolou where it was being used as a taxi. It was confiscated under suspicion,”
Unable to believe his luck, Goosen said: “The car was of sentimental value to me. I loved it and I am grateful I’ve found it.”
He added: “I want to thank the police for their hard work. We hear a lot of negative things about the police most of the time, but there are dedicated officers out there doing an amazing job.”
The BMW X5 was the UK’s most stolen vehicle in 2014.