Anchorage man unknowingly drove car that was reported stolen for years
The shiny and new, red Toyota TRD Pro in his driveway, is the vehicle Kevin Applegate has been waiting for since April.
“It had one mile on it when we picked it up,” he told KTVA, grinning, as he drove it back to the dealership to get an autostart installed Thursday.
He says the vehicle was special ordered to Alaska just for him, but when he went to trade in his old 4Runner at the same dealership where he bought it in 2012, he learned something about the car he hadn’t known for years.
“The guy was like, ‘Did you know your car has been reported stolen?’ I was like, ‘No?’” Applegate said.
Applegate says he thought it was a joke at first, but according to the “Carfax” report, it happened in 2013, a year after he bought it. But he says it never left Alaska or his care during the five years he’s had it. He thinks it might have been a clerical error, and says the dealership worked with Anchorage Police to get it all cleared up quickly.
“It was pretty funny how it all came together,” he said, but he’s still wondering how it didn’t get caught sooner.
“Here we are, driving around for 4 years in a “stolen vehicle,” supposedly,” Applegate said.
“Honestly, he got lucky,” said APD spokesperson Renee Oistad.
She says APD recovers roughly 92 percent of cars that are reported stolen and often within an average of 9 days.
“There are all types of reasons to have your license plate run, but again, certain behaviors could make that more likely, and if this gentleman just happened to drive around, was doing everything legally, got lucky, never got in a car crash, right place right time, he just never had his plate run.”
A good thing for Applegate, because when APD does run a plate to a car that’s been reported stolen, it’s a felony stop – meaning, “We do pull out whoever is in the vehicle at gunpoint,” said Oistad.
“That would have been pretty exciting,” Applegate chuckled, at the idea of APD catching the mistake before the car dealership.
He says since 2013, he hasn’t been pulled over by any law enforcement officers, but he has put new tags on the vehicle twice since 2013, so he’s puzzled that Alaska’s Division of Motor Vehicles didn’t catch the error.
Minta Montalbo, who works in the Department of Administration Commissioner’s Office, told KTVA Thursday that because Applegate was already registered to the car and no information was changed when he went to renew his registration, there was no reason for the DMV to run a check through the National Vehicle Title Information System.