Liz’s Car: Search and Recovery

Well, while I was catsitting today, I got a call from Liz. Turns out, the cops did find her car, parked in an alley somewhere up north (4933 North Kostner). And from there, I set off on a series of phone calls and searches, trying to figure out how to track down Liz’s car, and get it back to the neighborhood.

I was able to get into Liz’s apartment, and found her AAA information. After making a few calls, I learned that she needed to be physically present, when the towing took place. Since Liz was in Hawaii, that option was out. However, the one variation we had was for me to get added to her account information – and then I could call AAA for the tow.

Outside, I ran into Justin and Howard (who happened to be driving by) and told them about the situation. I was hoping to get a second person to come with me, as I wasn’t sure where I was going and what kind of neighborhood I was heading into. Plus – once we got a tow back to our neck of the woods, we’d likely have to roll the car into a parking spot on the street.

Howard kindly offered to come with, and I left for home to talk with Liz about more options.

After more phone calls, I talked to a police officer who suggested to me that I go, tonight, to retrieive the car. He seemed very insistent that I should go, tonight, and get the car as the risk of it getting stolen again was fairly high (since it was left, abandoned in an alley somewhere).

After talking with Liz and finding out I couldn’t be added to her AAA, I ended up just finding a random towing service online and made the call. The guy I talked to said he could be at the address within 15 minutes, and I grabbed my keys.

En route, I picked up Howard (at this point, it’s now about 11:30 PM) and we made our way up towards Kostner. We got there fairly quickly, all told, and started driving up and down alleys, on occasion catching the headlights of the large tow truck – who was also driving up and down the alleys, trying to track down the car.

Eventually, after a lot of driving around, I decided to pull over and call the towing service. As I was looking around for the info, Howard popped out into a nearby alley, to have a look. No sooner did I get the phone ringing, Howard yells out that he’s found the tow truck and the car.

I feel a bit ghoul-ish for documenting this whole process, but I guess in some part it was a necessary thing. It’s always good to have photographs when something major like this happens to a car. And I also knew that Liz would want to see these photos, even though she was far away in Hawaii and totally unable to do anything from her end.

It was pretty dark in the alley, and the only flashlight we had was a small penlight that Howard and found. After looking at the interior and trying unsuccessfully to start the car… we determined that it did, indeed, need to get towed. Only after we assessed the situation did I then break out the camera, and documented all the damage.


Here’s what I saw, as I neared the truck and car. Liz’s car was left close to a garage on the left, blocking the entryway.


After trying to start the car, Howard popped the hood to see what might have been taken. We learned (to our surprise) that they had taken out the entire freaking engine.


Interior shot – note the bottle of Windex in the passenger seat, which I’m guessing was used to wipe down the interior of the car for prints.


The stick-shift is gone.


The spare was put on the front driver’s side wheel. The towing guy said that he thought the garage where they did all this might be nearby. Since the engine was gone, it would either have to be towed to this spot or pushed by hand. A tow truck would have drawn too much attention, so it was likely rolled here by hand.


Getting the truck ready.


I’m not sure what it was they did, but there was some serious work done under the glove compartment, on the passenger side.


Dashboard – completely gone.

It’s funny, but I did honestly sit down and try to start the car. It was dark, and I couldn’t really see much of anything. Only later (after my eyes had adjusted) did I realize how much had been taken (the dash, the exposed steering column).


And, of course, the radio’s gone too.


Hoisting the car up, readying it for transport.


Howard, champ that he is, stuck around to help me maneuver the car back into a parking spot on Wabansia.


Then, he helped me tape up the windows with duct tape and window insulation. It’s not perfect, but since the windows were both down (and they were electric), there was no way to get them back up.


While we were in the alley, the guy in the tow truck gave me his card (so we could call him, once we located a parking spot). I didn’t get a good look at it until after we got back.

By the end of the night, we got done around 1:30 or so. Not an ideal way to spend a Friday night (I had planned on being lazy and watching some movies), but I’m glad we at least found the car. Big props to Howard, for coming with and helping out with the entire process. I dislike asking for help in general, but I’m glad I had someone else along – and that he was willing to lend a hand.

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