Lynda Alsip got an unexpected Christmas present this year: the 1967 Ford Mustang she had stolen from her 28 years ago. Alsip had last seen her first car, purchased for $800 in 1985, at her apartment complex in Salinas, Calif., before it vanished in 1986 while she was out with friends, the Salinas Californian reports. It turns out that it didn't go far. A man who says he purchased it from storage in 1991 kept it in his garage in Salinas and did some work on it before attempting to register it with the DMV. The California Highway Patrol soon traced it to Alsip's mother. When an officer called asking Alsip if her car had been stolen, "I said, 'Oh my God, you found my green '67 Mustang!'"
Alsip was reunited with the car on Monday after officers decked it out with a bright red bow. "It is sort of a Christmas miracle, and we are really happy to give her her car back," an officer tells NBC Bay Area. Alsip says her husband and son will work on getting the Mustang running again, but "it's an amazing blessing," she says. "I couldn't ask for a better Christmas present." She's already made one small adjustment: She's added the personalized plates she bought years ago—reading "LYNDA67" for the year she was born—which arrived after the car disappeared. Officials are investigating whether the man who had it all these years knew it was stolen, adds the Santa Cruz Sentinel. (Read more Ford Mustang stories.)