The long, strange trip of a 1965 Volkswagen van stolen in Spokane more than 30 years ago will soon end with a donation to a charity in Bellingham, Wash.
Lydia Place, a nonprofit Bellingham agency serving homeless women and their children, will receive all of the proceeds from an online auction for the van, which begins at noon Friday, Dec. 18.
The van was stolen in 1974 from a Spokane woman outside of an upholstery shop, according to The Spokesman Review newspaper. The woman filed a claim with her insurance company, Allstate, which paid the claim and, as part of the process, was given ownership of the van.
The van remained missing until October, when it was discovered during a U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspection of a shipping container departing for Europe. The vehicle had changed ownership several times and regained a clean title before it was discovered by customs agent, who checked its vehicle identification number, according to The Spokesman Review.
A German buyer, who was likely unaware of the van's history, was left on the hook for more than $20,000. According to copart.com, the online auction site handling the bidding, the van has normal wear and 76,844 miles on its odometer.
"Typically, if we recover a stolen vehicle, it's in worse shape than before it was stolen and it's worth less-sometimes far less — than the amount we paid the customer to settle the claim," said Paul Huber, Allstate's director of claims in the Northwest. "The situation with this bus is so unique that we thought it required a unique approach."
Once it was determined that Allstate was the rightful owner, the insurance company decided to make it available for public auction, with all of the proceeds going to Lydia Place. On Wednesday, Dec. 16, the bid on the van was up to $24,400.
Read more at BellinghamHerald.com