(Reuters) - U.S. authorities have recovered a Jaguar XKE stolen 46 years ago outside a New York City apartment after finding it on a ship to the Netherlands and tracking down the 82-year-old original owner of the British luxury car, officials said on Wednesday.
A man who shipped the car from the Los Angeles and Long Beach seaport complex submitted paperwork to U.S. Customs and Border Protection in June, and an analyst who checked out the vehicle saw it had been reported stolen, said California Highway Patrol investigator Mike Maleta.
By that time, the crate with the 1967 Jaguar was already two days away by ship en route to the Netherlands, which is a hot market for vintage cars, Maleta said. Authorities arranged to have the ship operator bring the car back to Southern California, which it did in August, he said.
The owner, Ivan Schneider, was an attorney who had bought the car as a status symbol and had it stolen from outside his New York apartment one night in 1968, Maleta said. Schneider, who now splits his time between New York state and Florida, has called it a "miracle" the car was found and said he plans to restore it, according to U.S. Customs.
The car is worth $23,600, and not the $100,000 such a model can fetch, because it has rust and needs parts replaced, officials said.
It was unusual for authorities to be able to retrieve such an old car, and they had the legal authority to get it back only because New York police had kept the stolen vehicle report from 1968, said Lou Koven, a special agent with the National Insurance Crime Bureau involved in the recovery.
The Southern California man who shipped the car bought it a few months ago from a man in Turlock, California, who in turn said it was in his garage for 40 years, Maleta said. Investigators are still trying to figure out who might have stolen it 46 years ago, he said.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Eric Walsh