Classic truck stolen from Grover Beach found in Mexico, returned to owner

Bob Brown’s 1957 red Chevy pickup truck

Nearly three years after Bob Brown of Grover Beach had his 1957 red Chevy pickup truck stolen from a grocery store parking lot, the vehicle owner has been reunited with his classic pickup. A quite improbable chain of events led to Brown getting his truck back.

In Dec. 2015, a thief stole the 1957 Chevy from the Vons parking lot in Grover Beach after Brown left the vehicle unlocked. Brown said in a video interview with the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) that he did not expect to ever get the truck back.

“When I lost it, I just checked off 20 grand,” Brown said. “I put it on my income tax. I have to tell my taxman I got it back.”

Grover Beach police circulated images of the truck on social media, and multiple agencies investigated the theft.

A San Diego County auto theft task force located the theft suspect and his girlfriend and arrested them for unrelated offenses. But the suspect denied stealing the vehicle, and investigators could not locate the truck in San Diego County, Grover Beach Police Commander Angelo Limon told the NCIB.

The suspect’s Facebook post

However, the suspect posted a photo on Facebook bragging he got the truck as a Christmas present. He quickly sold it to someone who took it to Mexico, according to the NCIB.

NCIB special agent Robert Hogan, who used to have a 1955 Chevy pickup, saw the police report about the stolen truck. Hogan decided to enter the information in the NICB database, even though the truck did not have insurance for the theft when it was stolen.

Two and a half years later, a vendor in Tijuana who works with NICB found the truck in a salvage yard in Mexico.

Hogan said the truck was not in bad shape upon being located in Mexico. He informed Brown, who paid the fees to bring the vehicle back across the border.

Brown is now spending about $20,000 to restore the truck. He is also changing the truck’s color from red to white.

“I am just so grateful to that crew down there for finding my truck, and they were just so nice,” Brown said. “I don’t know how to thank everybody for it.”

The Grover Beach Police Department said in a Facebook post the auto theft suspect in the case was sent back to prison after being arrested on various charges. Grover Beach police also commended the work of public and private partner agencies in bringing Brown his truck back.

“This is another great example of our many partners, both public and private, getting together to solve crime,” the police department statement says. “It took persistence and help from the National Insurance Crime Bureau to recover the truck in Mexico and bring it back home to its owner.”

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