Nothing, we expect, can be quite as heart wrenching as having the vehicle you’ve shed blood, sweat and numerous tears over nicked by some low life criminal. Yet as classic VW values continue to soar, it’s something that’s happening more and more often – and the emotional turmoil, not to mention financial loss, for the people involved can be devastating. Which is precisely why Doug Harwood from Dougs VW Werks set up the Stolen VW Register…
As a VW specialist based in West Sussex, Doug got to know first hand the heartbreak experienced by several of his customers when they had their pride and joys stolen. “These were people who had invested time, money and effort lovingly restoring something – only to have it taken from their drive as soon as it was finished. I’ve seen the effect it can have because their vehicles have become part of their family, an extension of their own personalities.”
Aware of the hurt it causes – and the miserable place victims find themselves in the immediate aftermath of a theft – Doug decided to do something about it, setting up the Stolen VW Register Facebook page to give people the opportunity to place details of their stolen vehicle in the hope of discovering its whereabouts and ideally getting it back.
Said Doug: “I felt sorry for people because after all their hard graft and effort all they were left with after their vehicle had been taken was a crime number and the prospect of a lengthy fight with their insurance company. I thought if I could get enough people together looking for these vehicles it might result in them being found.”
So far, with help from members of the Register, a blue Bay window bus stolen by joyriders was located and recovered by its owner with just minor damage to the steering lock – a success story that Doug hopes will lead to more and more stolen Beetles, Buses and Ghias being located. “With over 4000 likes so far, awareness of what vehicles are missing is better than ever – stolen Dubs will be like hot potatoes in the VW scene – and that should deter thieves taking them.”
Doug’s convinced that the spate of VW thefts which is sweeping the nation is being carried out by organised gangs who track down and follow their prey. “Where there’s money, there’s theft – and these people are targeting specific vehicles either to sell on or break for parts. We’ve even had a series of thefts from around here with people cherry picking parts such as T25 square headlamp grilles and trim. About £7,000 of items were taken in total – we looked on eBay and at shows, but couldn’t trace any of it which suggests it’s possibly going abroad.” Just as well then that the Register not only has a loyal following here, but also members from mainland Europe and the USA.
Part of Doug’s campaign to find stolen Dubs involves preventing their theft in the first place by increasing awareness and promoting anti-theft measures such as tracking devices. “Because the Dub scene is so friendly, people become complacent. But at least if a tracker is fitted, a thief may take another vehicle instead. The latest ones are difficult to disable and still work even if the car is put in a container. My aim with the Register is to keep thefts down and make it too difficult to steal a classic Veedub. The VW scene is like one big family, so it’s simply a case of everyone looking out for eachother.”
Check out the Stolen VW Register and keep your eyes peeled. You never know, you might be grateful yourself one day if some tea leaf takes your prized Dub!