Owner 'Stunned' After Stolen Car Is Found 38 Years Later

Blue Peugeot 104 was recovered from French pond
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 1, 2017 12:07 PM CDT
Car Pulled From 'Watery Grave' 38 Years After It Was Stolen
An interior view of a Peugeot 104, which was recovered this week 38 years after it was stolen, in a garage in Chalons-en-Champagne, France, on Friday.   (Chris den Hond)

It's the car coming back from a watery grave. A blue Peugeot 104 stolen in the heart of France's Champagne country in 1979 is being reunited with its owner—38 years later—after French police pulled it, in surprisingly good shape but crawling with crayfish, from a murky swamp, the AP reports. In a Facebook posting, police say the pond owner alerted officers in Chalons-en-Champagne, 100 miles east of Paris, on Monday about the discovery. The car became visible because drought dropped the water level. After police divers checked there wasn't a corpse inside, the long-lost vehicle was towed onto dry land. "lt still looks like a 104. It's still blue and there is still chrome on the bumpers. It's surprising," says Franck Menard, a mechanic who hauled it back to the garage where he works.

Police say the compact four-door hatchback was four years old and on its third owner when it was declared stolen in the town of Reims in 1979. Too old to figure in computer databases, investigators dusted off paper archives to find the proprietor, who lives in the Reims area. The owner was stunned when officers tracked her down, a police rep says, noting, "Even for her this was very ancient history." Menard says because it was declared stolen, the car technically now belongs to the owner's insurer. Still, he's expecting the owner to drop by "to come and see the car for nostalgia's sake." He doesn't think the little Peugeot will ever run again, because the engine block was muddied up. As for the crayfish inside it: They were freed into a canal. "At least they get a second life," he notes. (More France stories.)

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