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Video: How To Find And Return A Stolen Toyota Yourself: A Real Story From St. Petersburg
2023 Author: Natalie MacDonald | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 13:59
The other day we told a story about a hijacked ToyotLand Cruiser, which we managed to find and return through the efforts of its own car owner. And you will not believe, but such cases with a happy ending are not unique! We talked to the protagonist of a similar story, in which there is a white Toyota, gray searches, despair, threats, mysterious strangers, "talking" houses and big-eyed realtors. Now - in more detail.
The fuss in the life of St. Petersburg resident Artyom Antipov was added by the end of October 2020, when he decided to visit a friend who lives in the Pulkovo airport area. The area near the house was packed with cars, and, following the advice, Artyom drove his ToyotHighlander to a "safe" place in one of the nearby vacant lots, where evacuators cannot reach. But everything turned out to be not so cloudless: Toyota was hijacked.
The owner discovered the disappearance a couple of days later when he returned for the car. After interviewing the locals and making sure that the city services had nothing to do with her disappearance, Artyom contacted the duty unit and reported the hijacking. Together with the task force, the territory was combed again, but no traces of the SUV were found. And already in the course of drawing up the documents, it became clear how bad the fame of the parking "penny" on Srednerogatskaya Street was: the territory without cameras and bystanders was chosen by thieves, and statements about theft and theft of wheels were reported to the police with sad regularity. The chances of returning the car in hot pursuit were frankly little.
While there was a series of paper procedures, Artyom hoped for some clues from the street cameras - the police were doing this, but inquiries and searches did not yield anything other than confirmation of the fact of theft. The kidnapped Highlander even managed to "light up" on one of the avenues of St. Petersburg. Judging by the date, it happened on the second day after the theft.
Fearing to drag out the search, Artyom began to explore other possibilities to return the car: he asked friends, made contacts in other departments, tried to find various "solvers". From the information received, a strange and unpleasant picture emerged: despite the age of seven and the status of an unpopular model, after only a couple of days such cars, as a rule, turn into a “constructor” assembled from several models or a set of spare parts in one of Peter's quiet sedimentation tanks. Given the number of days that have passed, the search would at best have led to the discovery of a dismembered and dismantled Highlander.
There was also a hypothetical opportunity to go to the so-called "intermediaries" and try to buy the car for about a third of its value. However, the police considered this step dubious and warned that while the investigation is ongoing, the fraudsters themselves can search for the owner and offer their help … with an almost guaranteed "divorce".
And something like that happened - after a couple of months. Someone on the phone asked if our hero was interested in returning the car for a reward. Artyom recalls that by that time he no longer believed in success and therefore communicated with a stranger without unnecessary emotions. It was proposed to return the car for the amount of 600 thousand rubles and without involving the police. In confirmation, the interlocutor promised to send a photo of Toyota.
The amount required for the ransom was not on hand. And the deal itself seemed extremely dubious. Therefore, Artyom decided to find out from the stranger as many details as possible in order to take a loan with more or less peace of mind. In his opinion, this step was less expensive than buying a similar car.
The next call, however, went in a different tone. Having sent a photo of an SUV, the interlocutor openly rushed the owner, demanded money and aggressively persuaded him to make a deal. Realizing that the conversation was dragging on, hung up and disappeared without answering calls. All that was left in Artyom's hands was a short correspondence in the messenger and a poor quality photo, in which the stolen Toyota was hardly recognizable.
Artyom says that the conversation was too short and did not make it clear either the mechanism of money transfer or the status of the machine. The general sense of hopelessness was heightened by the fact that no new information was received from the police. Therefore, the owner decided to try to find the car on his own.
The only photo and new buildings in the background became a clue. First of all, Artyom decided to check the areas closest to the place of loss: Pushkinsky, Shushary, and so on. To identify the buildings, the owner involved his acquaintances and their acquaintances - architects and realtors.
One of them found similar houses and shared panoramas from online maps. Judging by them, Toyota was photographed in the regional district of Murino, 40 kilometers from the place of theft. Having reached the point, Artyom's brother found not only the same place from the photo, but also … a white SUV parked nearby!
True, on other numbers and without a radar detector, navigator and transponder, which was installed by the owner. At the same time, despite months of searching, the car was completely complete, and the VIN number remained the factory one.
Having contacted that police department, Artyom found out what to do next. However, the proposal voiced then - to call the emergency number 112 - will then be called incorrect by the investigators. Because as soon as the information arrives at the remote control, it becomes available to the hijackers, which makes it impossible to arrange a sudden ambush. Later, one acquaintance will tell Artyom that the hijackers often take advantage of the inconsistency in police actions and the difficulties with communications between different departments, and therefore store or abandon cars in the wrong areas where they were stolen.
Since the area where Highlander was found was in the region, operatives from another department came to the call and for a long time could not decide what to do next: give the car to the owner against receipt or deliver it to a special parking lot. As a result, they decided to take Toyota away in a tow truck.
Interestingly, while the tow truck was waiting, a minibus stopped next to Highlander. A man with a flashlight came out of it and began to study the SUV. The operatives inquired about the identity of the mysterious observer. He introduced himself as a local resident and said that he was professionally looking for missing cars, so he regularly inspects equipment abandoned in the area. And that I found an ad about the theft of Toyota in one of the groups on VKontakte. Interestingly, the post appeared on the social network after contacting the police, but without Artyom's knowledge.
Later, the whole story with the discovery of the car in the police was initially mistaken for Artyom's attempt to conceal a deal with the criminals and was repeatedly asked how much the ransom cost.
However, law enforcement officers were also in no hurry to hand over the car. The extradition officer announced active search activities, not knowing that the car had been found and was already on the police premises. It took almost two weeks to confirm this obvious fact, during which Artyom was informed about the lack of time and the necessary documents. The acquaintances of our hero, who were deeper into these issues, said that staying in the parking lot did not guarantee safety: the car could be “undressed” and even stolen again. But Artyom was lucky.
After weeks of requests and endless calls to other departments, and even fingerprinting, Toyota was taken away. Immediately after that, Artyom decided to strengthen the protection and retrofit the SUV, during which interesting details of the abduction were revealed. Before hijacking the Highlander, the hijackers knocked out the rear side window and broke down the door. That is, the thieves preferred brute force to the technical interception of the signal from the key and accurate hacking.
Despite the happy ending and the active help of friends and acquaintances, the owner still has questions that he wants to get answers to. For example, where did the strange ad on social networks come from (with a photo of someone else's Toyota and a photoshopped number)? How did the secret "eyewitnesses" know his number, although the car was registered in the name of his wife? Who are professional hijacker hunters? And Artyom doesn't really trust the standard alarms anymore.
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