Before you begin the tale of the truck caper, I need to update you as to what Peggy and I have been up to.Until recently, winter has been peaceful although way too dry. Many cords of firewood have been cut and stacked. The cat’s daily routine has been refined and she is reasonably content. Peggy is busy with quilts and completing many a delayed project. The shop has also been busy but the list of requested furniture is growing at a faster rate than production. The events of this last week are the excuse.
As we were leaving the house around mid-day last Friday we noticed that we had a missing vehicle. Our little Toyota pickup truck was gone. The vehicle that is used for numerous tasks like moving firewood, going to the dump, and hauling building supplies was not to be found. After looking at each other with questioning looks for a few moments and trying to refresh our memory as to whether we had actually driven the truck and were hiding it someplace, we concluded that it must’ve been stolen.
A stolen vehicle is a new experience for both of us. Having been on the planet for more than six decades, it was time for a new experience neither of us wanted to have. We proceeded to call the Tuolumne County sheriffs department and reported that the car was missing. A couple hours later, the California Highway Patrol showed up to take the police report. The officer was very cordial and explained to me that these pickups very popular amongst the criminal crowd. He explained many times they find these vehicles after their gas is gone and some times missing pieces such as batteries. I assumed that we had seen the last of the faithful pickup truck.
Yesterday morning we received a call from the sheriffs department that they had located the pick up truck and that we could meet them and pick up the truck. Turns out that the truck was only a couple miles from our house. The location of the truck was in a somewhat notorious neighborhood that we rarely venture into. The neighborhood qualifies as scruffy at best although in fairness it must be said that there are many normal hard-working people living in this somewhat rundown neighborhood. At first we could not find the car even though we found the address. Eventually an officer met us at the road and motioned that we should drive our vehicle to the back of this long driveway to find our car.
The sheriff department had discovered the location of the pick up truck when they interviewed a driver who was at the hospital getting patched up after an accident in another stolen vehicle. This driver, our car thief, had a cell phone with many pictures. Evidently, the pictures were being used as a marketing tool for his stolen loot. His picture collection did not include a picture of our 14-year-old cute little pickup truck but did include a picture of a very sexy red motorcycle. The sheriffs recognized the stolen motorcycle and convinced the hospitalized thief to explain where goods were hidden. Thus, the discovery of our little truck.
Meanwhile back at the crime scene, under the tarp cover lay our pickup truck. It was somewhat burdened with a collection of found objects acquired while the pickup truck was in the possession of perpetrator. The sheriffs inquired if the tools of the trade such as a gas siphon hose and a police scanner were ours. I replied that I had no need for such cool objects. The truck was actually in pretty good shape despite having its ignition destroyed. The sheriffs showed me how to use a screwdriver to start the machine. I guess our humble little truck had participated in a number of felonies while in the possession of our thief. I kind of wonder if victims will recognize it and shoot first as is somewhat customary up here.
I met the gentleman who owned the house where the thieves have been hanging out. He seems like a nice man who was trying to help out the young couple. They repaid his generosity by helping themselves to some of his tools that had been relocated to the bed of our pickup. As we were leaving, the girlfriend of our hospitalized car thief was led to the patrol car. Dressed in red pajama bottoms, sweatshirt and furry, Croc-like slippers, she was a poster child for “This is what drugs do to you”. No matter what they had done to us, you could not hope but feel sorry for her and the boyfriend.
Unfortunately, the license plates that were on the truck did not belong with the truck. Our plates had been removed and replaced with stolen plates from Twain Harte. Our little truck was plateless, gas less and keyless.
The sheriffs were quite talkative and explained that returning stolen stuff was the best part of their job. We talked about where we lived which was less than a mile as the crow flies away from our truck’s hiding place. They also were well acquainted with my neighbor. He manages to call the sheriff’s department on a somewhat regular basis to report the drones, camouflaged militia and other things that surround his trailer at night.
Peggy completed the police report and we then proceeded to drive our ignition keyless and mostly empty of gas pickup truck to a repair shop. That part of the adventure was uneventful. We then determined that we should go to DMV to start the process of getting new license plates.
At the DMV, I explained that our stolen vehicle had been recovered and gave her the paperwork provided by the sheriff. We sat down while the clerk started to react somewhat strangely. She talked in whispered tones on the phone and disappeared into the back office. In a few minutes, a couple of burly CHP officers arrived and motioned Peggy and I into a little office. They asked for our story while keeping their hands on their pistols. It was somewhat uncomfortable. Turns out that the Sheriff had neglected to report the truck as recovered. The CHP assumed that Peggy and I were trying to get licenses for a hot car. A call to the sheriff relieved the touchy situation. I can only guess that after having lived in the mountains for a few years that Peggy and I have developed the presence of hardened criminals. I could see the headlines,”Senior’s Gone in 60 Seconds”.
The CHP kind of apologized for their initial brusqueness and explained that it could have been much worse if they had seen me on the road. In that case, it would have been flashing lights and guns drawn. We might have made the local paper and its News of Record.
I do find it somewhat amusing that we manage to travel to many countries but are only in danger of arrest at home. I needed to memorialize this event so that you readers do not think that we hibernate during the winter. I will not bore you with my adventure of two weeks ago when my ATV went off a cliff. I bailed but managed to bang myself up pretty good. It provided much levity to the CalFire Prison crew. I guess we need to get back on the road.