SAN RAMON — Mike Chadwick spent five years and $100,000 on his 1967 Mustang Fastback, and he doesn’t regret a minute or a dollar. But his decision to leave the vehicle in front of his house after a race on Labor Day? He’d like to have that one back.
On Tuesday, someone drove up to Chadwick’s home on the 2500 block of Toltec Circle, jumped in the Ford pickup truck that pulled the trailer carrying the car — and sped off.
“Honestly, it feels like somebody has kidnapped one of my children,” Chadwick, 69, said.
The car wasn’t insured because of the expense, he said. Chadwick recently spent $10,000 to have the motor repaired and picked it up Sunday from the shop so he could race it in an amateur event at Sonoma Raceway on the Labor Day holiday.
“Got the car back Sunday,” he said. “Went to a race on Monday, stolen on Tuesday.”
Chadwick said he didn’t leave the keys in the truck.
As Chadwick was trying to figure out what to do about the theft, a neighbor came over to ask Chadwick if he had arranged for someone to move the vehicles. When Chadwick said he hadn’t, the neighbor showed him photos he shot with his cellphone as the theft was taking place. The photos show a silver or pale blue BMW in front of Chadwick’s house, and a man driving away in Chadwick’s truck. The man appears to have tattoos on his arm, but his face is not visible.
The neighbor, however, didn’t call police at the time. Still, police now have the photos and Chadwick’s family members have posted and shared them on social media, hoping for any tips that will solve the case. “It’s heartbreaking because he has enjoyed (racing) his whole life,” Chadwick’s daughter Krystin Ann Radke said from her home in Martinez. “It’s his passion, and he’s been talking about how it’s going to be his last year, and now that’s been taken from him.”
Chadwick spoke proudly of the vehicle, which won an award for Best Competition Car at the Sacramento Autorama in 2012. He said he invested tens of thousands of dollars in the car’s racing transmission, its fiberglass hood and doors.
Chadwick was in his living room when the vehicles were stolen, but he didn’t notice anything amiss because the living room is set in a back area of the home away from the driveway and street.
Chadwick said that, in retrospect, he realized he shouldn’t have left the car in the trailer on the street. But he said he’s lived in the home for 29 years, and residential crime has never been an issue.
“One thing I want to tell people is to be leery of your cars and where you store them,” he said. “Out in the street like I had it is not a good place.”
The truck and trailer each have California license plates, the family said. The license plate of the Ford truck is 6H42545, and the license plate on the trailer is 4BD6775. Combined, Radke said the car, trailer and truck are worth about $175,000. Whoever took his truck threw the cellphone that was inside into the street, where Chadwick found it.
“We’re all shaking our heads,” Radke said. “It’s just so frustrating that people are so blatant about taking things that don’t belong to them.”
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the San Ramon Police Department at 925-973-2700.
Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4789 and follow him at Twitter.com/3rderh.