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LA man gets his Mustang back after it was stolen 38 years ago

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If I were the original owner who had it stolen from him, I would sign the title over to the woman and thank her for taking care of it for 38 years.  He may legally own it, but she morally owns it.  What would you do, and why?

LOS ANGELES - A Los Angeles man is getting his stolen Mustang back 38 years after it was stolen. The vehicle has an extra 300,000 miles and a different paint job, but Eugene Brakke's 1965 Mustang is evidently running just fine.

Brakke reported the car stolen to Burbank police in May 1970. One month later, a Long Beach teenager named Judy Smongesky received the car as a high school graduation gift from her father, who had bought it at a Bellflower used car dealer.

Smongesky, who now lives in San Diego, said Thursday she had been driving and maintaining the car for nearly four decades, and only learned that it had been stolen when she recently prepared to sell it. San Diego police verified the car was hot.

"It's his car, even though he had it for four years and I had it for 38," Smongesky said. "He seems like a real nice gentleman, though."
Brakke found out Smongesky had twice rebuilt the engine and painted the Mustang from its old gold color to silver-blue.

"He wasn't too happy with that," Smongesky said.

The pair planned to meet up to transfer the car soon.
"It was hard but it was the right thing to do," Smongesky said. "I haven't really cried yet, but when he drives it away, I think I'll fall apart."

The circumstances behind the way the car was determined to have been stolen was she planned to sell it and that flagged the authorties. That sounds like a bunch of crap to me as the DMV had the VIN in their data base. That shows a big gap in the California vehicle registration system, which doesn't surprise me. There's a saying - 'the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing' - or in the Cal DMV case,  - 'the right hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing'. In any case, the car is his, she has no rights to it at all. In the past few years, there have been some others, a Vette and a T-bird, that have made the news and the sellers/current owners took the hits.

Then she should at least be paid the amount of money her father paid for it and for all the upkeep such as the two motor overhauls and God knows what else.   Neither she nor her father stole it.  They bought it under honorable circumstances, and took pride in keeping it maintained for all those 38 years.  Yes, it's legally his car, but morally, it's hers.  I would take him to court. 

Court? What a joke. She would loose on the basis that 'ignorance of the law is no excuse'. It's a cold cruel world out there.

id be hard pressed to take it from her. i seriously doubt he is attached to it as much as her, esp since it was a gift. but it is legally his i think i would offer half of market vale if i wanted it back and wasnt planning on selling it. but since she was actually trying to unload it must not be to attached to it? i think i might just accept it and be on my way. just depends on the situation


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