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Exclusive: West Philadelphia Missing Car Mystery

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By Ben Simmoneau

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In a city like Philadelphia, parked cars sometimes must be moved for construction, or perhaps to make way for emergency repairs. In those cases, they are towed, and someone is supposed to keep track of where those cars are moved.

But as Chas Kurtz found out the hard way, that’s not always the case. So instead, he had to spend the weekend searching for his car.

The West Philadelphia man says he parked his car on the 4600 block of Pine Street last Monday night. On Saturday, when he went to use it, it was gone. He didn’t panic and instead called the Philadelphia Parking Authority and police, but the news was not good.

“No one has any record of any vehicles ever being moved from that block, and no one has any record of my vehicle being in any registry,” he said. “No one had any trace of the car, so I had to report the car stolen.”

It looked like there had been construction on the block at some point during the week, so Kurtz figured his car was towed and relocated. The problem was, even though he tried calling half a dozen city agencies and several local towing companies, no one seemed to have any record of any cars moved from the 4600 block of Pine.

Several neighbors told Eyewitness News that a condominium complex on the block did have part of the street torn up for construction and did post “No Parking” signs, but those signs were only up about a day ahead of time. Construction companies are supposed to notify police where cars are moved, but police had no information.

“A car doesn’t just simply vanish. Someone moved it,” he said. “Everyone I possibly could think of that could have been involved in this, denied ever moving vehicles, ever seeing my car … it was beyond frustrating.”

A police officer helped Kurtz look for his car on Saturday night, but they didn’t have any luck. He was told it could be ten blocks in any direction – that’s an area covering 400 city blocks – the urban equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack.

Kurtz tried looking again on foot on Sunday, walking from 43rd to 48th Streets between Market Street and Baltimore Avenue. Monday, he searched again with his father’s assistance and eventually found the car near 49th and Osage. He still has no idea how it got there.

“Frankly, I was reaching the point where I thought I was never going to find it,” he said. Now, he’s just trying to get his car off the stolen vehicle list.