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Can you use Social Media to Find a Stolen Car?

Lose your phone, and there’s an app to track it down. Lose your car and there is too. No, it’s not called “find my lost Mustang,” but if you’ve used Facebook, Twitter or other social media applications, you’re already set up to track down missing vehicles.

If you think it’s just wishful thinking, you’re wrong. Private citizens and the authorities have teamed up on multiple occasions over the last few years to return missing and stolen vehicles to their owners. Here are a few examples of social media making all the difference in recovering a car.

Dwight Sanders’ Mustang


The world has many proud Mustang owners. Dwight’s relationship with his car, however, is a little different from the average. The car was a sentimental link to Sanders’ late wife. It was a project that they had put time and love into. And then it disappeared.

On July 23, 2017, the professional truck driver filed a report with the Baytown, Texas police. Sanders also posted on Facebook that the car was missing. His post was shared over 3,000 times, and shortly after the explosion of support on Facebook, the police were contacted with information about the location of the car. It was recovered intact, hidden beneath a tarp and surrounded by other objects. The thief was taken into custody.

Erik Knutson’s Knova

A bright red ’66 Nova is a hard car to miss. It still went missing, though, over the 2017 Thanksgiving holiday. Thanks to help from social media, the car was returned to its rightful owner within 24 hours of disappearing.

A post on Facebook with information about the car’s disappearance was shared over 800 times. Even before Knudsen had arrived home from a trip to see family for the holiday, his father was taking calls from people who had seen the car.

Sure enough, a woman spotted the fire-engine red muscle car and noticed it, but she didn’t realize it was stolen until pulling up Facebook. She immediately contacted the police and Knudsen. The thief, who was only described as a young man, was arrested. The car was recovered intact.

Who Not to Steal From

We don’t wish stolen cars on anyone, but if you’re going to hijack a car, you would be wise to avoid vehicles owned by those who work in the media. For example, staff writers at Jalopnik.

Jason Torchinsky — “Torch” as he’s commonly known — is just such a writer. Think of him as the automotive journalist equivalent of Zach Galifianakis. Now, Jalopnik has posted images from stoplight cameras and other places in the past to assist readers whose rides had been stolen, but no one could have known that a writer on staff would be subject to this type of crime.

Torchinsky emphasizes in his recount of what he went through trying to find his prized vintage Volkswagen Beetle that victims of theft should call the police, but drive the search for the car themselves. Nothing against the authorities — social media just allows us to cast a wider net than a few officers can alone.

Torch is transparent about the fact that not everyone will have a large following of readers to help spread the word, but as these other cases demonstrate, getting as many friends and strangers looking for your car on the road as possible is the key to success.

When in Doubt, Get to the Chopper

Perhaps the most exciting Facebook stolen car story we’ve seen comes from Jameeka Garwood and Josh Carrol. The Australian couple’s Nissan Navara, which is a small ‘ute’ similar to a pickup truck, went missing, so her dad got out his private helicopter to help track it down.

Between the ability to see from overhead and Jameeka’s efforts posting updates on Facebook, the vehicle was located and recovered the very same day it disappeared. Unfortunately, the Navara went on quite the chase, and authorities needed spike strips to disable it and apprehend the driver.

We’ve all seen “Gone in Sixty Seconds,” but there’s no glamour in real-life car theft. Thieves may have gotten away with it in the past, but today’s social media is proving to be the best weapon when cars go missing. These criminals will just have to get a job and pay for a car themselves!

Scott Huntington

Author Scott Huntington

Scott Huntington is an Automotive YouTuber and writer who loves cars, sports, and business. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington or email [email protected].

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