A Stolen Volkswagen Minibus Made For the Wildest Car Insurance Claim Of All-Time

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Aleena Juarez
Updated on Apr 27, 2022 · 4 min read
There's plenty of stories out there about how a pet has become lost and finds their way home years later. What you don't hear about is
vehicles that are stolen
, and found years later. Yet, that's exactly what happened to Michelle Squires’ Volkswagen minibus. This led to an unusual
car insurance claim
that involved a lost vehicle reappearing years later and being worth more than when it was lost.

The case of the stolen VW minibus

Squires loved driving her 1964 Volkswagen minibus around and wanted a bed to sleep in. According to
How Stuff Works
, that's why she ended up at an upholstery shop to have a fold-down bed installed.
It seemed simple enough. She'd drop the van off, and return for it when the bed was installed. Little did she know that it would be 36 years before she'd sit behind the wheel of her beloved minibus again.
The vehicle was stolen from the parking lot and there was no trace of it. Squires reported the theft to
and was paid $600, which was the amount she had bought the minibus for.

Where did this stolen minibus turn up?

Squires moved on, but 35 years later, her minibus was found in a shipping container.
In a not so amusing twist for Squires, her '64 minibus was restored. While having it completely redone inside and out is not tragic, the reason behind it was. The VW bus was on a one-way trip to the Netherlands.
It's unclear who the minibus was being sold to, but it was moments away from heading out to sea. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in Los Angeles discovered it and ran the vehicle identification number. That’s when Squires learned that her stolen vehicle was still running, and now worth an astonishing $25,000.
It sounded like good news for Squires. In fact, it was. Until Squires learned that her beloved '64 VW Bus now belonged to Allstate because they had reimbursed her for it.

Did the original owner get her vehicle back?

It was hard for Squires to learn that her van was still fully functioning, but that it wasn't hers. Rather than accepting that this was how the story ended, and learning that it was still out there was her happy ending, Squires decided to fight back.
NBC News
reports that the story about the minibus ran in the Wall Street Journal, and a lawyer from Oklahoma read about it. He decided to take the case pro bono and represented Squires in court.
It wasn't meant to be, however. At least not yet.
NBC News reported, "Michelle's insurance company, which paid her for the van in the 1980s, decided to auction it in December 2009. Michelle Squires bid on the VW, but was outbid. It was sold for somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000. But a paperwork issue kept the van in Southern California, allowing Michelle to buy it back."
Squire and her boyfriend were able to drive to California to pick up her long-lost '64 VW Bus. She then drove it back home to Spokane for the first time in 36 years.
Upon arrival, a party was thrown at the Cathay Inn Restaurant to celebrate the return of the VW that Squires never thought she'd see again. She reported that she intended to take her grandchildren on a road trip in May of 2010.
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