PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – When a Camas man had his 1972 Chevy Chevelle stolen in northwest Portland last week, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever see his car again.
But on Monday, thanks to the attention of a FOX 12 viewer, his luck changed.
To those who see it drive by the red 1972 Chevelle may be just a good looking muscle car, but for James Malarkey, it’s a pride and joy and a long term, expensive investment.
“Everyone identifies me with this car,” said Malarkey.
Last Wednesday, Malarkey left his car parked at Northwest 23rd Avenue and Overton Street in Portland after a night out celebrating his 40th birthday.
When he came back the next morning, it was gone.
“I was staring out at the ocean and realizing that this is such a big world, the car could be at the bottom of the ocean and I wouldn’t even know it,” Malarkey said.
Malarkey got desperate. He posted pictures of the car, its customized features and Arkansas plates on social media. He also put up fliers and called FOX 12.
Then on Monday, Malarkey got a Facebook message that his car had been found at the corner of Northwest 27th Avenue and Quimby Street, a half mile from where it was stolen.
The message was from a FOX 12 viewer who recently had a car cover stolen.
On Monday, his friend found it a few blocks away and was surprised at what he found underneath.
“It wasn’t my car. It was my cover, but obviously this red Chevelle that I saw on the news,” said Shane Ellis, who found the stolen car.
Malarkey said, “And at that moment, my heart jumped out of my chest. I was on the road and I was going right to where the vehicle was.”
He got his car to the shop, where mechanics found his ignition had been cut with a portable grinder and his battery had been removed.
“These were definitely professionals. They definitely knew what they were doing,” Malarkey said.
He thinks the thieves didn’t make it far for a few reasons. One, he had just an eighth of a tank of gas. And then, the weather.
“I’ve never driven this car in the rain and so I never put windshield wipers on the vehicle. And it just happened to be torrential downpours that night,” Malarkey said.
With a new battery and a temporary fix to fire it up, Malarkey took a FOX 12 crew for a ride – his first passengers since getting his car back.
When asked how it feels be back behind the wheel, Malarkey said, “It feels pretty awesome. I thought this would never happen again.”
Malarkey says along with the few fixes he has ahead, he’ll upgrading the car’s security.
And he won’t be parking it overnight on any public streets again anytime soon.
“I’ll be happy to take it home and have my kids and family enjoy it again,” he said.
Portland police say they have no information on who stole the car.
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