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The Statute of limitations has come and went so the person that stole it has nothing to fear. Not legally anyway. Even if they were 20 years old when they ripped it off, they would be over 72 years old today.

Your car is and has been, somebody else's car for probably ten times longer then you

So even if you found it intact exactly like it was the day you last saw it,.. It ain't yours and the person that has it owns it.

So who in the heck is going to give you a 57 Chevy for 20 grand?
 

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It is a crime to knowingly possess stolen property.
This would apply to the original thief, and to anyone that obtained it knowing it was stolen.

A stolen vehicle can be legally recovered, or taken back and returned to the rightful owner, without compensation.
It doesn't matter whether the current 'owner' knew it was stolen.

If it is recovered and the 20k reward is paid, then the rightful owner effectively bought it back for 20k.
Sounds fair, You are wrong, but what you posted sure seems fair.

The term knowingly is a vague laymen term and has no legal bearing.

The "Original Thief" can not be charged for a theft that happened 52 years ago. In the eyes of the law, it is no longer even seen as a crime.

Any item attained through legitimate bonafide means shall have precedent over the "rightful" owner. If the car was found, and the owner of it bought it off a used car lot or from some other legitimate source you will be hard pressed to see law enforcement step in to "recover" said vehicle. It will become a civil matter and I seriously can not see any court that would step in to this buzz saw of litigation. They would state that there is no course of action or legal remedy to sustain a court order.
 

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If he has the police report for a stolen vehicle and still has the title it goes back to him if recovered.
Pretty big assumption that this car is rolling around with it's original VIN. Even bigger assumption that the current "owner" would have any connection with the circumstances that put this car in play. The law and courts are driven by the law, the law requires factual corroborated evidence. There is no smoking gun.
 

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Im not assuming anything. I doubt the car still exists but if it does it's his if the original VIN is still on the car, such as frame. Anyone that bought it not knowing it was stolen is out of luck if it's recovered.
Years ago my friends car was stolen it was spotted and the police found the original VIN. It was impounded from the current owner that bought it unsuspecting and returned to my friend. The guy that thought he owned it had bought new wheels and tires for it, he said to the cops that those were his, NOPE, what ever was on the car when recovered went to the rightful owner.
Study law some time.
You can never "clean up" stolen property as long as it's positively identified
Can you show me any case that is over 5 decades old that does not have a murder or rape connected to it that has ever, and I mean ever been enforced, in terms of returning property. ( I will capitulate in any case or cases regarding federal currencies or tax)

It might surprise you just how much I have "studied" the law. ;)
 

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Anecdotal side bar. A vehicle with a bogus VIN is traded in to a dealership, dealership in turn sells it at auction. Both the dealership as well as the auction have verified the VIN and proceeded, as the vehicle checked out. A third dealership specializing in used older cars buys car at said auction. The car is brought back to the dealership, cleaned up and put out on the lot. (This all took less then 3 weeks time) A buyer enters the picture, falls in love and buys the car on the spot. They have a beautiful relationship that lasts 25 years. In that time the car is transformed. New everything including a new chassis. The old chassis is sold and the buyer of that chassis cleans it up and uses it on a long term restoration. During that restoration the chassis is cleaned up and a serial number that is different then the one on his bill of sale appears.

Police are called, chassis is impounded, they even wanted to impound the body that was sitting next to it but cooler heads prevailed and the chassis and body did not share the same VIN and all documents checked out. During the investigation the police go to the person that sold the chassis. They want to see the car it came out from under. He cooperates, they verify the vin as not matching the chassis but not actually matching anything other then the registration and title the owner posses and he even shows 24 previous expired copies of it. (This guy keeps everything) An investigator for the highway patrol takes down all the information and leaves.
After many months a letter arives in the mail from the CHP stating that the VIN is in fact not valid, that the DMV had made an error and the car should never have been able to be registered. The original dealership, the auction house and even the used car lots are all gone. The investigation ends there, except for that pesky VIN number on the chassis. The CHP stated that a certified letter would be sent except they have no address or known information at all about the poor person the car was stolen from.

That chassis, the one that was impounded... It came back to the person that had bought it, they even waved impound fees and the tow truck company produced a invoice for $125

A new Vin has been assigned to both the car and it's old chassis.

Perhaps the story would have been completely different if the victim had been available.
 
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