Clapham man’s stolen vintage Ford Mustang found by police

A Clapham man’s unique vintage American muscle car has been found by police after it was stolen two weeks ago.

The distinctive 1964 Ford Mustang that Clapham residents would stop to take photos of was found after a search lasting over 72 hours.

Police data shows London car thefts reached their lowest volume in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic, but have since risen closer to their previous number.

VINTAGE: James’s Mustang in front of the London Eye; Credit: James Sandham

The car’s owner, James Sandham, 42, said: ““Every time I took her out, people would want to talk about it.

“Kids would sit in her, photos would get taken, memories shared.

“She was a piece of public art.”

The Mustang was built in San Jose, California before being bought by a sheikh in Qatar and then moving to Leicester as a for-hire wedding car.

James, a barrister, bought it in 2018 and has since used it to drive his son Oscar, nine, for tennis practice in a park during lockdown.

But the car went missing one night, James realising it was missing the morning of the 5 March.

The stolen vintage car is owned by Clapham-based barrister James Credit: James Sandham

He informed the Metropolitan Police and also hired Chelsea-based private detectives PEL Consultancy Services for over £1,000 to help track the car down.

He said: “It wasn’t about the money for me.

“It was about me demonstrating to my son that we don’t live in a world where people can come along and just take your things and us do nothing about it.”

PEL Consultancy Services managing director Paul Lewis said he’s received a big increase in stolen vehicle enquiries over the past seven months.

He said: “Some of the enquiries we have coming through, you don’t believe them until they’re on the phone.”

He believes the rise is due to more gang-related activity and added that stolen vehicles are now being shipped straight out of the country, instead of staying in the UK.

Metropolitan Police data shows London car thefts dropped by over 25% to 1,616 per month in March 2020, before returning to 2,245 in January 2021.

After multiple false leads, James received a call from a Metropolitan Police’s Organised Vehicle Crime Unit officer on 8 March who said he had found the car.

The police are now holding it for evidence and will return it to James no sooner than mid-April.

James said: “I want to encourage people that you’ve got to move quickly and don’t take no for an answer.”

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