The car in question - a cherry red 1989 Corvette Convertible - was stolen from what was then C & M Chevrolet in San Diego 1989 and vanished without a trace. Authorities were unable to locate the stolen convertible and C & M's insurance company long ago cut the dealership a check for the value of the boosted Vette. But, as it turns out, that wasn't the end of the Corvette caper.
In September, the San Diego Police Department received a call from an attorney claiming his client was in possession of the very same Corvette that went missing from C & M's lot in 1989. The lawyer further explained that his client - who was only identified as a "recent immigrant from Ireland in 1989" - got mixed up with the wrong crowd and was somehow strong armed into stealing the Corvette Convertible.
So why fess up to the 23-year old crime? As it turns out, the car had been locked in a storage unit ever since it was stolen from C & M's lot back in 1989, racking up storage fees in excess of $70,000 over that period. The crook could simply no longer afford the $300 a month rental fee to keep the Corvette locked out of sight and decided to tip off the police before the facility's owner discovered what was hiding inside the delinquent unit.
According to the police's account of the lawyer's story, the man was forced to hang on to the car by the people that ordered the heist, which explains why he didn't ditch the car - and the costs of storage - long ago.
"He was supposedly instructed to continue hanging on to it," San Diego Police Department auto theft Det. Andrew Spear told the Los Angeles Times. "If it's true, then he felt threatened and kept paying."
Aside from a thick layer of dust and four flat tires, the Corvette was discovered in showroom condition with just 67 miles on the clock. Spear said it even "still had that new-car smell on the inside."
After being sold to a wholesaler, the mint condition Corvette Convertible was put on eBay in December, with the winning bidder plunking down $39,471 - almost exactly what the car listed for brand new in 1989.
As for the thief, authorities decided not to press charges because he was cooperative with the investigation.