Los Angeles News
Stolen Volkswagen Beetle tracked down using Google Maps
SILVER LAKE, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Jason Torchinsky was just 18 years old when he bought his 1973 Volkswagen Beetle, which explains why now, at age 41, he was devastated when the yellow bug was stolen last week.
"I've just had this car so long. You just get this gut-wrenching loss," said Torchinsky.
He filed a police report with the Los Angeles Police Department, but then he turned to the Internet for help. Torchinsky is a writer for the automotive website Jalopnik, where he posted a photo of his stolen car, hoping someone in Los Angeles may spot it. His plea for help ricocheted throughout the online automotive community and then over the weekend -- a hit.
"Someone posted photos of the car. It was clearly my car. It was clearly partially stripped. The headlights were gone, but it had the stripe on the hood," said Torchinsky.
The photo was a great start, but also a potential dead-end. The guy who posted it didn't say where it was taken. But that's where the Internet comes to the rescue once again.
Torchinsky posted the new photo on Jalopnik, and one of the site's followers had an idea of what neighborhood the photo may have been taken.
"Based on a hill and the color of the house, he went through Google Earth and Google Maps and street view and just found it. He said he just had a hunch, found a hill, started combing around and saw it," said Torchinsky.
The car was found in El Sereno. Torchinsky has been reunited with his car. But the Beetle is missing its headlights, luggage rack, radio and, most noticeably, its engine.
The damage is estimated at about $3,000. Fortunately, he says investigators have good clues on who may be behind the theft. But the yellow love bug fan, who sports a mini version of the car on his jacket, is just happy the five-day search is over.
With the help of countless eyeballs on the Web, he was able to find his Beetle in a haystack.
"It's absolutely amazing," he said.
technology, los angeles news, rob hayes
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