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How an online forum helped a car dealer recover a stolen car…

How an online forum helped a car dealer recover a stolen car…

We’ve all heard of services like Lojack, a service that allows police (and the rightful owner) to track down a vehicle after it has been stolen – but many have probably never seen a story where an online forum of car enthusiasts uses the internet, cell phones, text messaging, video cameras, and other tools to help other car enthusiasts recover their vehicles once they are stolen.

Today’s New York Times profiles how online collaboration through services like online forums enabled one car enthusiast/dealer was able to recover a rare & valuable stolen car:

One of the men had been to the dealership a week earlier for a ride, but he and Mr. Ironside didn’t get far. The car, with an engine modified for extra horsepower, began to act up. When the man returned with a friend for another try, Mr. Ironside was juggling two customers, so he just handed them the keys, explaining that there was only enough gas in the tank for a drive around the block.

But 15 minutes later Mr. Ironside noticed that the Skyline still hadn’t returned — and that the car that the two men had arrived in was gone. A bad feeling swelled in his gut; still, he reasoned, sometimes a buyer will take a car to have it inspected.

“It’s kind of hard to report a vehicle stolen 15 minutes after it’s not come back from a test drive,” he said in a telephone interview last Sunday.

The car never returned. That night, after reporting its disappearance to the police, Mr. Ironside posted a message on, a Web site for Canadian auto enthusiasts, to spread the word.

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Auto theft isn’t a crime that you see police spending much time on nowadays – though from time to time we hear of a prominent case – perhaps this is a more efficient manner of getting the job done?

Other coverage: Wired & Slashdot.

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