SAN DIEGO—Authorities returned a 1965 Ford Mustang to its original owner, 40 years after she reported it stolen.
Bridget Bjorkquist, 69, said she didn't believe the California Highway Patrol officer who came to her San Diego home and said he found her car.
"On December 31, 2010 at 10:30am the doorbell rings and there is a CHP officer. I thought to myself, what is he doing at my door? I opened it and he asked if I was Bridget. Yes, I told him. Then he asked if I ever owned a mustang. I had to think about it. Then I told him, 'yes, about 40 years ago,'" she said. "The officer told me he found it. I almost fell over."
Bjorkquist said she was on vacation in Palm Springs in March of 1971, when someone stole her Mustang out of her garage in Los Angeles.
"I loved that car, and we all kept saying, 'I's gone to Mexico. It will never be seen again,'" she said.
CHP Officer Jeff Piccinini, who's stationed in Dublin, California, discovered the car had been reported stolen after the most recent owner came in to verify the VIN number.
"The original was scratched off the car, and there were a few things about the replacement that seemed odd to him," Piccinini said. "I ran some paperwork and information through the Insurance Crime Bureau and located the original police report with Bridget Bjorkquist's information on it."
A San Diego CHP officer then contacted Bjorkquist, who arranged for the car to be brought down to San Diego and stored at Pacific Automotive in Pacific Beach.
The car is about 40 percent restored, according to mechanic Jim Ricco. The Mustang is not drivable, though it has the original keys, cassette radio and dashboard. The interior needs major work as well as new paint job.
The Mustang is red, though the original color was a wine burgundy, which you can still see in the trunk.
"This car was sold with factory air, which whoever started this restoration project knew that that was valuable, and they kept it," said Ricco. "The engine is new."
Bjorkquist said the classic muscle car was special to her when she bought in 1969, now it's just a car.
"It was very dramatic when it happened, but you get over it, and you put it on the back burner and forget about it, I mean it was 40 years ago," she said.
Bjorkquist plans to sell the car to the highest bidder.
As for the previous owner, the CHP said he can file a claim with his insurance company to get reimbursed for some of the money he paid buying and restoring the car.