10 Game-Changing Auto Thefts

Auto theft can be seriously sexy or seriously disturbing. When your car is returned because of a text message plea to the thief, it seems that auto theft can be seriously sweet. And when it's a video game, it can even be seriously fun. Go ahead: click your key fob until you hear your car beep locked, then put these 10 game-changing auto thefts of all sorts on lockdown.

  1. The Original GTA

    With the bevy of automobile security features available to consumers today, it's a wonder that the first car theft was only just over 100 years ago. In June of 1896, a Peugeot belonging to Baron de Zuylen was stolen by his personal mechanic in Paris. The car and the thief were soon found, and, perhaps, the first "just taking it out for a spin" defense was used.

  2. Scandalous S Class

    European environmentalists can find something to complain about — even when a little road-trip to Spain goes horribly wrong. When Ulla Schmidt was serving as Germany's Federal Health Minister in 2009, her driver was drugged, and her armored, $140,000 Mercedes-Benz S Class was stolen in Spain. A political scandal erupted wherein Green Party members accused Minister Schmidt of wreaking havoc on the environment for taking her sweet, sweet ride on vacation.

  3. The Tucker Torpedo

    Leave it to the government to steal a man's glory. The 1948 Tucker Torpedo was a concept automobile, conceived by master innovator Preston Tucker. After a highly-publicized stock fraud trial — and (largely accurate) claims that the "Big Three" auto companies and the steel industry were in cahoots with some government officials to undermine Tucker's magnum opus to protect their own interests — only 58 Tucker Torpedoes were ever built, many of which are still in use today. Incorrectly billed as the "Spruce Goose" of the auto industry, the car was highly advanced for its time, and would have changed the auto industry's game. Instead, it seems, the powers that be salted Tucker's game.

  4. Grand Theft Auto

    A game-changer in the video game industry, Grand Theft Auto has turned illegal life into virtual fun, with record sales and taking gaming to new levels of scope and popularity. People that don't know about or particularly like gaming have heard of and probably played GTA. Here's a bonus: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had a hidden sex scene that got prudes and politicians up in arms. And if that isn't a change of pace, what is?

  5. Not A Movie Shoot!

    In the City of Angels, real life is sometimes stranger than fiction. In May of 1995, Shawn Nelson caused quite the fracas after he stole a 63-ton military tank and leveled dozens of cars and other property on the streets of Los Angeles. He was an unemployed plumber whose life was apparently in shambles, but what a theatrical way to choose to go out.

  6. The Alternate Side

    In this hilarious Seinfeld episode, Jerry's car is stolen (whaaat's the deal with that?), and Jerry and George call the car thief on the phone. This and other episodes in the third season warranted a game-changing eight 1992 Emmy nominations for the show, of which two were won. Marking the first year that Seinfeld was nominated for any awards for acting, and the first year that the show won any major awards, this episode is a classic within the show's first break-through season. Watch the video of the conversation here.

  7. Return Text

    On a similar but real-life note: late in 2011, a California woman had her car stolen with her cell phone inside. The woman's sister text messaged the phone, asking the thief to return the stolen vehicle. The vehicle, and the phone, were returned intact. Technology truly has changed the world, and, wonderfully, has the ability to imbue a personal element into any human action — even grand theft auto.

  8. Dude, Where's My Car?

    Heroes get remembered, but legendary catch phrases never die. Changing the game of pop culture-isms that seep their way into everyday life, 2000 stoner film Dude, Where's My Car?, which centers around a car theft, popularized the phrase and many take-offs. Reminding viewers that Cheech and Chong-style films and buzz words from the '70s never truly go out of style, this comedy provided buddy and pot tropes for future films, such as 2004's Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. Also garnering several nods to its pop phrase dominance, this movie title about a stolen car is oft-parodied — such as Dude, Where's My Country?, a post-9/11 political tome by activist documentarian Michael Moore.

  9. "Where is your car, Dude?"

    A crucial plot point in arguably the greatest movie ever made, The Dude's rusty 1973 Grand Turino gets stolen and the audience (especially first-timers) get thrown for a loop. Because of this auto theft, Walter Sobchak goes on a curse-word filled rampage, and comically destroys the wrong person's car.

  10. Game-Ending GTA

    Bonnie and Clyde were two of the most notorious and public thieves in American history. Perhaps known as the first celebrity criminals, Bonnie and Clyde were infamous for robbing banks with their gang of thieves. Tracked down while driving a stolen car in Louisiana and killed in May of 1934, their final car theft marks a true triumph of cops over robbers.

Leave a comment