Her friends jokingly call it “Boomerang.” Maika Nicholson’s car has been stolen five times, but has also returned five times.
“I always come out to make sure it’s there because oftentimes it’s not,” Nicholson said, about her silver Honda when it was stolen for the fourth time in May. “I can’t even keep count anymore.”
On Tuesday, her car came back for the fifth time. It’s been stolen four times in San Francisco, and once when she lived in Seattle. But the 1997 Civic always seems to come back. This week, Nicholson found it about 5 miles from her Noe Valley home.
“The first time, I was pretty upset. Now, it’s just kind of funny to me,” said Nicholson, who has tracked the car down herself using a GPS app on her smartphone. The third time it was stolen, the thieves dumped it a couple blocks away, without any damage.
This time, “I looked at the app, and it was in The Haight, so I was like [expletive] my car got stolen again,” Nicholson said. She tracked it to Page Street, but then noticed the thief was on the move.
“By the time we got there, it had actually moved to another place about four blocks away, so I figured the guy was still actively driving it around,” Nicholson said, explaining she finally found it abandoned, without any damage, but with evidence the thief might be coming back.
“There was a sweatshirt, an oil filter, a cut-off iPhone cable cord. There were glasses,” she said.
According to SFPD’s Carlos Manfredi, they could be stealing the car for two reasons: “simply to joyride in it, drive around town, tear up the car, do donuts, stuff like that;” or use it to commit crimes.
The Bay Area has one of the nation’s highest rates of car thefts, according to the FBI. This is especially true in San Francisco, where more than 2,000 cars have been stolen in the first six months of this year.
“Those are easy cars to make. All you need is a fork,” Manfredi said, explaining thieves usually target older models because they’re easy to break into.
Nicholson has a club to deter thieves; however, other Civic owners have suggested she buy a pedal lock, and officers have recommended she get a new car with a smart key to protect herself.
But it’s not easy to trade in an old friend, even when it keeps driving away.
“I probably won’t get a new car until it doesn’t come back to me for some reason,” Nicholson said. “Or dies.”