Would you recognize your lost vehicle two years after it was stolen?
For Laura Zimmerman, it was easy — all she needed was to look for a spot of green nail polish she had painted on the fuel cap of her Ford F-150.
Zimmerman, from Williams Lake, B.C., said she never fully gave up hope of finding her stolen dark green truck, but she was shocked to see a vehicle that looked a lot like it driving down Highway 97 a couple of weeks ago.
She followed the truck to 100 Mile House, where it stopped and she had the opportunity to verify the mark she left behind many years ago.
“It’s just so surreal to me,” Zimmerman said, describing the moment she realized it was her truck from the small patch of nail polish.
“It’s very, very festive — you could even use it for a holiday manicure,” she told host Sarah Penton on CBC’s Radio West about the paint, describing the colour.
Zimmerman and her husband, Jim, relocated from Saskatchewan to British Columbia with the truck nine years ago.
The last time she saw the vehicle, at their home on Fox Mountain in Williams Lake, was on the early morning of Jan. 16, 2020, after she left the keys in the car ashtray the night before.
She says they immediately reported the car loss to RCMP.
“I had a hard time believing it at first — it wasn’t really a high-end vehicle, like a 15-year-old vehicle with a lot of kilometres on it,” Jim Zimmerman said.
The couple bought a replacement truck, but Zimmerman says her emotional attachment to the old vehicle was so strong that she held out hope that it would be recovered someday.
On Nov. 24, her hopes finally came true by pure coincidence. She was on her way home from a medical appointment in Kamloops, and if she hadn’t pulled out from Highway 97 near 70 Mile House in order to answer her daughter’s phone call, she wouldn’t have spotted the Ford when she returned to the road.
Zimmerman says besides the green nail polish painted on the gas cap, another identifying feature was a decal for Cam-Don Motors, a dealership in Perdue, Sask.
She says she called the police after parking just across from the truck in 100 Mile House.
“I walked over and I took pictures of the plate, and I took pictures of the gas cap, and I took pictures of the damage in the back,” she said. “I’m standing behind this truck because I know in my heart, if this truck leaves, I’ll never see it again.”
Zimmerman says her body shook with joy when an RCMP officer arrived.
She says the officer said to her, “You know, lady, this is one in a million. You need to go buy some lottery tickets.”
Amazingly, she did buy a lottery ticket soon after — and won $112.
But more importantly, Zimmerman says, she showed her husband that she was able to locate the lost vehicle.
“For the last two years, every time he left [home], he’d say, ‘Go find the truck.’ And I would say to him, ‘Yeah, I’m on that, honey,'” she said, before describing calling her husband with the news.
“I started crying and laughing. I said, ‘I did find the truck!'”
The Zimmermans say they brought their truck back home from the impound lot last week.
In an emailed statement to CBC News, the RCMP said the theft of the vehicle is still being investigated.
The Mounties also noted that the truck appeared to be registered and insured, and appears to have been sold after being stolen from the Zimmermans. They said the person who bought the Zimmermans’ truck may not have been aware that the vehicle was stolen.