A man who had his car stolen in the middle of a holiday of a lifetime has managed to track it down after members of a Facebook group played detective.
Michael Christopher and his partner Lize have clocked up over 30,000 kilometres travelling around Australia since November last year, and it had been a pretty fuss-free trip until he decided to head to Fremantle in Western Australia.
When he arrived Mr Christopher booked his camper trailer in for a service and drove their car to a holiday park where they spent the night in a cabin, when the pair woke up the next morning, the car was gone.
“It had all of our gear in it,” Mr Christopher told Yahoo News Australia.
After calling the police, Mr Christopher’s insurance company arranged a hire car but with all of the couple’s possessions gone, he started to wonder what to do next.
When a friend told him about a Fremantle Facebook group with over 37,500 local members, he thought it might be a good idea to ask them to keep an eye out for his car with distinctive paw prints on the side.
The closed Facebook group is reserved for locals in the Fremantle area but Mr Christopher thought it was worth a shot.
“Even though I wasn’t a Fremantle local, I explained what had happened and I was hoping to use their group to help find the car,” he said.
After being accepted into the group Mr Christoper posted an image of his car and asked the group if anyone had spotted it.
“Within half an hour I was receiving posts about sightings of the car,” he said.
“My hubby spotted this today,” one person wrote.
“I saw it at around 12 today on McCombe Ave,” another added.
“I saw your car today on Rockingham Rd, near the puma just after 3pm,” an eagle-eyed member said.
With each update Mr Christopher relayed the information to police but they were always one step behind the car thief.
“I called them about 10 times forwarding new information about sightings of the car, the problem was that the sightings were hours old,” he said.
Finally a breakthrough came in when a member of the group called Mr Christoper and said she was parked near the missing car at that very moment and even sent him photos to make sure it was the right vehicle.
Mr Christopher spoke to a police officer assigned to the case but was surprised by the response.
“He told me he couldn’t get there right away and I would probably get there sooner,” he said.
So Mr Christopher jumped in his hire car and headed for the location where the Facebook user was still ‘undercover’ and keeping an eye on the stolen car.
“Sure enough the car was there, It had been dumped, all our belongings were gone, but the car was undamaged.”
Mr Christopher said he was touched by how people in the Facebook group had gone out of their way to help a stranger.
“I believe finding the car when we did was a direct result of this great Facebook community,” he said
Although it cost him $920 for a locksmith to change the locks on the car, Mr Christopher said he is happy to have his car back again and praised the members of the Facebook group for their support and help.
“I received many dozens of messages of support and many messages giving information about the car sightings,” Mr Christopher said praising the group.
The couple are determined not to let this bump in the road ruin the trip of a lifetime but Mr Christopher isn’t quite sure where their destination is.
"We’re getting there. Not quite sure where ‘there’ is yet," he said
The thief who stole Mr Christopher car has still not been identified.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the online reporting page.
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