News 12 at 11/ Tuesday, March 3, 2015
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- When it comes to racing, you're told to "drive like you stole it."
But, last week when a NASCAR stock car was actually stolen, the thief didn't drive it. He dumped it.
All of that happened outside of Atlanta, but an investigator from Augusta was key in helping find the car.
On and off the track, XTREME Racing car #44 is all about the race. Last week, the race was figuring out where it went after it was stolen from the parking lot of an Atlanta hotel.
"The truck, trailer, and contents of the trailer, which included the NASCAR which was inside of the trailer, was stolen about 4:30 to 5:00 that morning," private investigator Doug Parker said.
Unlike being on a track, a stolen car investigation is no time to run in circles, so they called Parker. He owns Park Investigations based out of Augusta. His thirty years of GBI experience makes him a hard guy to beat.
The insurance company hired him to crack the case.
"Maybe they realized I may have had some other contacts the other person did not," he said.
Soon after taking the case, he found a Craigslist ad offering $10,000 for the prized and unmistakable #44 car.
"Law enforcement was doing their job with certain searches and subpoenas, search warrants to obtain some IP addresses," Parker said.
Before they could even get the search warrants, someone spotted the car along a dark, rural road outside of Atlanta. The owner tweeted he was happy to have his "old faithful" back.
They eventually found the truck that hauled the trailer on the opposite side of town.
To Parker that means, "whoever took it probably didn't realize that the racecar was in there."
That must have been the surprise of a lifetime. Or, it was a calculated crime.
Parker says the insurance policy on the truck, trailer, and racecar had just gone into effect four hours before the theft.
"You may have just made a small payment upfront to start the insurance, and now we're talking $250,000-$300,000 in payout," Parker said.
News 12 spoke to the owner through Twitter Tuesday. The crime did cause them to miss the weekend race in Atlanta, but there was no damage to the car. All it needed was a tune-up, and it'll be back on the racetrack in Vegas this weekend.
Officers are still looking for the trailer and the thief. Morrow City Police say they do have a person of interest and will be questioning that person soon.