CALEDONIA, Mich. (WOOD) - Tim Tape and his 21-year-old son, Nick, spent nearly a year rebuilding a classic, 1987 Chevrolet Silverado pickup from the ground up, piece by piece.
They say they put $20,000 into it, though it's priceless to them.
"It was a father-son project," said Tim Tape, of Middleville, whose son owns the truck. "We did it together. He was out there with me, the whole time. Even if he wasn't working on it, even if he was sitting there watching his dad work on it, but he was there and he learned."
Finally, last weekend for the first time, he and his son were showing it off at a four-wheel drive truck show in Indianapolis.
"My kid, he was on Cloud nine, you know," Tape said.
His brother-in-law was there, too, showing his rebuilt 1979 Chevy pickup.
But early Sunday, Tim Tape said he woke to a loud noise outside his Indianapolis hotel room -- the sound of his brother-in-law's truck starting up.
"Looked out the window from the second floor and I seen his truck being backed up," he said. "I just kept thinking to myself, 'Where's Eric (his brother-in-law) going at 6:30 in the morning?' and I watched him drive out of the parking lot, didn't even think about it."
A half-hour later, they discovered both trucks were gone. Thieves also had tried breaking into two other classic trucks in the hotel parking lot, Tape said.
"We both cried when it was stolen," he said. "So did my brother-in-law. That's how attached you become to that vehicle because we spent so much time and effort."
The same weekend, thieves reportedly stole a $300,000 1970s Chevrolet Chevelle that was in Indianapolis for a classic car show. That vehicle belonged to a man from Holt, MI, according to published reports.
The weekend before, on Sept. 14, thieves stole a $100,000 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS Hot Rod in Kalamazoo.
Police say the car was in an enclosed trailer parked at a lot near Sprinkle Road and Easy Street. The owner left to get dinner and returned to find the trailer door's lock had been cut and the car was gone, police said.
"I hope it's all the same party that's stealing these, the Chevelles," Tape said. "I hope they find them."
Tape said Indianapolis police recovered his brother-in-law's 1979 pickup, apparently undamaged, a day later in another part of the city.
Terri Miller, executive director of Michigan's Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT) program, doubts it's the work of a ring.
HEAT doesn't keep statistics on thefts of classic cars, but Miller said it's unusual because they're difficult to re-sell without chopping them up for parts or changing the Vehicle Identification Numbers. Some thieves, however, have been known to pick out a car to steal at classic car shows.
"It's like a grocery store for thieves," she said.
Miller said older cars are easier to steal because they have none of the anti-theft technology of new cars.
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