SALINA – Randy and Pat Miller got a Christmas gift they never expected to receive this year. They got Blanche back.
Blanche is the beautiful, mint-green 1953 Chevy pickup that was stolen from a fenced-in, locked lot in Salina on Aug. 11.
“It was taken on our 30th anniversary and we got it back at Christmas. It’s just a very strange story,” Pat said. The couple had given up on ever seeing the truck again, figuring it had been chopped up and parted out.
“I thought if we would get a frame back, we would be lucky,” Randy said.
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But then an anonymous caller phoned authorities in Shawnee County with a tip that a stolen truck was about to be moved and disposed of.
According to information given to the Millers, a woman overheard her neighbor talking about getting rid of a truck stored in a small garage nearby and actually saw the stolen vehicle. She searched online for trucks stolen in Kansas and found media reports, including a Wichita On Wheels column reporting the theft of Blanche, then called in the tip.
The thief’s identity is known, but he hasn’t been located. It’s believed he wanted the trailer that the pickup was stored in, thinking it might be full of construction tools he could sell.
“He had no idea of what he was getting,” Randy Miller said. The trailer has yet to be found.
The Millers had agreed to an insurance settlement on the theft of the truck and signed the title over to the insurance company just before the show-quality pickup was found and recovered. So they had to go through the stress of an online auction to buy Blanche back, beating out another bidder in Texas.
“There was some cosmetic damage, but nothing that can’t be fixed,” Randy Miller said, noting some paint scratches, a dinged bumper and crimped tail pipe extensions, all inflicted when the unsecured truck rolled back and forth inside the trailer while it was being hauled away.
“This would have never happened if she hadn’t turned it in. Thank God she did. Somebody is looking over me again,” Randy Miller said.
Reach Mike Berry at firstname.lastname@example.org.