There are few things in life that are as upsetting as being victimized by a thief. Granted, most possessions can be replaced, but the resentment of having something special taken often lingers long after the check from the insurance company clears (if there is one). And when it comes to having a street rod stolen, there isn’t really anything that will make us feel better.

For many of us, having a street rod disappear is something that happens to someone else. Not long ago that “someone else” was our pal, Chick Koszis. We’ll let him tell how events unfolded in his own words:

Chick’s Story

I was attending the 2011 Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona [California]. I was staying at the Fairplex Sheraton Hotel, adjacent to the GNRS venue. I had driven the roadster into the show on Saturday as part of the Drive-In show. When that concluded at 5 p.m., I drove the car out of the fairgrounds and parked in the Sheraton parking lot. The parking spot that I got was right in front of the hotel and not 50 yards from the front lobby entrance. I went to dinner with some friends in their car. When we returned around 8 p.m., I checked the car and it was there.

The next morning at around 8:30, I went out to the parking lot to put my suitcase in the car. It was then that I discovered it missing. I went to the reception desk to ask if any cars had been towed that night for any reason, and they reported that no cars were towed. “Well then, I’d like to report mine stolen,” was my reply. The hotel management was called along with the security night supervisor, who also happens to be the night facilities supervisor (you know, the guy who keeps the furnace and the elevators running). They notified the local police department. I filled out an incident report with the hotel management and filed a police report with the Pomona Police Department when they arrived. I asked the hotel manager about surveillance camera coverage. He advised me that they have no cameras covering the parking area.

A couple of side notes: One, the Fairplex Sheraton utilizes the Fairplex security staff. They have no independent security personnel. Two, Dick Rodwell told me later that he cruised into the hotel parking lot about 9 p.m. or so on Saturday evening, saw my car and decided to try to find me inside to shoot the bull. I had already gone upstairs to my room so we didn’t see each other. But, Dick can’t go 10 feet without meeting someone he knows and getting into a conversation with them. A couple of hours later, he went back out to the parking lot to leave and noticed that my roadster wasn’t where it had been parked. So, it’s pretty evident that the car was stolen from in front of the hotel between 9:30 and 11:30 p.m. Saturday evening. Note that it wasn’t parked in a dark, lonely, secluded spot but literally right in front of a busy, major hotel.

There were no security precautions taken. Up to that point, I really didn’t consider security as being an issue with our cars. Sure, I’d heard of street rods being stolen before, but it didn’t seem to be a risk. That was then and now I know better. I’m sure that the thieves scouted the car out and this wasn’t a “drive-by” operation. I feel that they had to have had a trailer nearby and they didn’t need to start the car. They just needed to reach into the car, put the shift lever in neutral and push it into their waiting enclosed car-hauling trailer. There were plenty of those around the hotel and Fairplex parking areas because of the show, so it would not have attracted attention.

My opinions after this experience:

1. Fuel system shutoffs and electrical system kill switches would not have prevented the theft of my car. They would have had plenty of time to figure out those annoyances after they got it to their shop.