Charges mount against man accused of stealing Wild Cherry van


Chris Carter’s wild ride just got a little wilder. Four months after authorities charged him with stealing the 1975 Chevrolet “Wild Cherry” custom van that appeared in the 1979 movie Van Nuys Blvd., Carter faces another misdemeanor charge in the case.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/02/12/more-charges-in-wild-cherry-van-case


If this guy wins and is found not guilty it sets a really bad president. Anyone could walk onto private property and simply take a car that has been sitting for years just because it has been sitting for years. Think about a huge portion of the cars that are shown on Barn Find Hunter, someone could just go and take one because they claim the owner is neglecting the car and it is abandon. This is like the car thief that steels a car and then replaces the rims and tires, and repairs the engine and expects to not be arrested but to be repaid by the owner.


So what if it wasn’t a vehicle? What about my oxy acetylene welder? I haven’t used it in a couple years and it is in need of repair. My pressure washer? The Corvair engine “block” I’m using as a planter? All in the same condition. How does that give anybody the right to come onto my property and take them?


It will be interesting to see what the judge decides. The owners claimed they drove it and were one day going to restore it. I find it hard to believe that after 30 years and being cannibalized for parts (including a tree falling on it) that was their intent. Do they have a history of restoring anything let alone a van of such significant disrepair? They didn’t even keep the title. Who intends to keep a car but doesn’t keep the title? This is different than just taking of car from a guys yard next to his garage like a welder, or engine block you want to save, this was out on the ‘back 40’ next to other junk and scrap. More importantly, he didn’t just pull up and take it. Carter says a Sheriff’s deputy told him it was abandoned, it was behind a locked fence that was opened for him to specifically take the van. Were the deputy and persons unlocking the fence charged with abetting theft? Even though it was scrap, it is the scrap of the owner. If I were the judge I would charge Carter with material theft, not theft of an automobile and pay the owners the scrap value.


Wait, I’m confused. The article says that the van “is in worse shape than when Carter hauled it off their property”. What? So Carter restored the van, but then it got vandalized and is now in bad shape again? What a goofy story. How about just let the guy put it back under the tree where he found it, and he’s out the cost of restoration, like the idiot he is.


@richardreau - That is right. Chris Carter restored and modified Wild Cherry, then once he was arrested it went missing, only to be found stripped and spray painted.


No matter what the item is, if it isn’t yours don’t take it. If you do without the rightful owner(s) permission then you are a thief. Maybe you have been given incorrect information about the owner but it is up to you to find the rightful owner BEFORE taking it. If you don’t and take it anyway then you are a thief. If you did it unwittingly then it is up to you to satisfy the rightful owner. If you don’t then you need to be prosecuted. A thief is a thief is a thief. There is no grey area here, this van was on private property and Carter could have spent a little time and used public records to find the owner of the property to inquire about the van. I would bet the owner would have given it to Carter or sold it at a very reasonable price. But he didn’t do that but instead relied on hearsay information and as a result is a thief.


This guy was not and is not associated with the Van Enthusiast community. Many van enthusiasts got behind his restoration project with ideas, advice, parts and financial support only to realize the guy is not Van or auto enthusiast material, I’m share most of the Hagerty readers know what I mean. Heck of a story though!


First off, this added charge story is a month old. There is a lot of mis-information in this story as well. I’m not going to get into this and start a big fight. There are many “hater page” already on social media. Also , the reporter from Illinois has distorted facts as well.
My bottom line, if you followed the build on social media is that Chris’ story about obtaining the van has never changed. I think he was a bit naive in the laws… What thief steals something, on social media, builds it, on social media and makes every attempt to track down the complete history of the vehicle?
The Godins had cut out the engine, there was no interior, it had been in a fire and a tree fell on it. They showed no interest in it until he contacted them and saw that it was almost done. It was trash… Funny how if you follow the nes articles on this, Mrs. Godin’s story changes everytime…


It seems like he did an awful lot of research to find the van, he could then have done equal research to find the owners. It was parked on property that they own. He got access to it on private property without contacting the owners of the land, then took it. Sounds pretty clear cut to me. He stole it.


This is spot on… you can find who owns the land, and the land around it and determine who owns the van, and ask if they want to sell it. Property rights 101.


bblhd, You’re partially correct about a bad precedent though. He contacted the “owners”, right? They did not even know the van was missing? Both parties should work something out and avoid spending taxpayer dollars on a frivolous lawsuit.


I’m surprised that the lump hadn’t been ‘stolen’ by the county long ago as they have done to so many of us. Others are correct: taking so much as a piece of angle iron is theft, It’s strange to me that he isn’t allowed to talk to the owners and work something out like has happened to me when I was robbed, the Sheriff only told the thief to return my stuff!


Some good points. IMHO, The whole story of the guy who took it will be useful only for sentencing consideration. Awarding scrap damages + court costs seems almost fair, but I think there should be slightly more than just scrap awarded because the real owners never officially decided to scrap it. Maybe double the fair trade value of the van at the time of theft, as a type of punitive damages?