Back in July 2014, Oregon’s Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies seized a 1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda that turned up 13 years after it was reported stolen back in 2001. Rick White said he bought a brand new green Plymouth ‘Cuda in 1970. He used to race it at Portland International Raceway all the time back in the day.
“My whole life’s been involved with this car,” Rick said. “I just never intended to let go of the car or sell it.” That stayed true until someone stole the car from his garage in Southeast Portland in 2001. “It was a very upsetting time,” said his wife, Jackie. “It was hard to even think about it being gone.”
Rick and Jackie searched for years and found nothing, until June 2014. That’s when they received a letter from Budget Towing in Northeast Portland that said their car was being stored on their premises and the person storing it there had not paid the bill, so it was going up for auction. The Whites said they received the letter because the Department of Motor Vehicles listed them as the current owners still. There was a catch though, when the Whites called Budget Towing, they were told the man storing the car had paid the bill and had the car delivered to his home. That’s when they decided to call the police.
Rick told the police the history behind the car and how it had be stolen back in 2001. When he let them know what had surfaced and where the car was, they were given an answer they didn’t expect. The Sheriff’s office told them they could not recover the car, even though the Whites had the title. Sergeant Pete Simpson with the Portland Police Bureau said the statute of limitations (three years) had ran out, and with no crime to prosecute, police can’t just get a warrant and get the stolen car, like some might think. The Whites were told the case was being investigated but there were no promises the ‘Cuda would ever be returned to them.
It was learned that the man who had the car was Lee Sitton, who lives near the city of Troutdale, Oregon. Private investigators went to Mr. Sitton’s gated estate and rang through the intercom at the gate, asking to speak with him about his side of the story. “There isn’t any side to the story as far as I’m concerned because there is no story, really. The story is to be determined later. There is no story now,” said Mr. Sitton.
He said he legally bought the car in 2001 and while he didn’t get a title with the car, he did have a Bill of Sale in his hand. He also said he did not ever believe the car was stolen before ending the intercom conversation. He refused to accept anymore calls or answer any questions regarding who sold him the car, and why he did not title the car within 30 days of buying the car, as required by Oregon law.
All the Whites could do at the time was sit back and hope that investigators would get to the bottom of it and make the right decision. They publicly reached out and begged that Mr. Sitton just give them their car back. That was until later that month, when they finally able to find a resolution (or loop hole, per se) within the justice system. They went and filed a new stolen car report with police. With a new report filed, that allowed police to reopen the case and get a search warrant for the car. Shortly after, Multnomah County sheriff’s deputies served the warrant and seized the car.
The next day, at the Multnomah County Sheriff’s impound lot, the Whites were finally able to see their beloved ‘Cuda for the first time in 13 years. “I’m elated,” said Jackie White. “Finally, the car’s not in his garage, it’ll be in ours. Where it belongs.”
However, the saga was unfortunately not over. While the Whites were able to get the ‘Cuda back in their hands, the car was not in drivable condition what-so-ever. It was completely stripped down to almost a bare shell. Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office continued with efforts to recover the remainder of the vehicle. It was never really said though, if they were successful in that pursuit or not.
There is a happy ending to the whole saga though! A few months back, KATU News in Portland shared a story with an update on the stripped and once stolen ‘Cuda. Thanks to a whole bunch of car fanatics and very generous people, the Whites ‘Cuda saw the road again!