Facebook helps crack case of stolen classic car

Posted at 4:10 PM, Mar 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-02 17:44:51-05

A man’s most prized possession seemingly vanished into thin air. It was a vintage sports car – a 1979 Z-28 Camaro.

WBBM-TV’s Vince Gerasole reports, the car’s owner turned to Facebook for help.

“This things my baby,” says Nick Bratcher. “(I) pretty much built it from the ground up.”

You might just see a souped up 1979 Z28 Camaro.

But this was Bratcher’s first car and it’s something more.

“It’s like family to me,” says Bratcher.

He stores the Camaro at his family’s Midas Muffler shop in Tinley Park.

That’s where around 3:30 Wednesday morning, a heavy-set hooded figure threw bricks through several windows, broke inside and eventually drove off in Bratcher’s precious wheels.

“Never thought I’d see it again,” says Nick’s father Robert Bratcher. He had to break the news to his son.

“It was in pit in my stomach. It was a car I bought him when he was 16,” says Robert. “Something he plans on keeping and passing on to his son.”

When Nick heard the news, he was crestfallen.

“My heart just dropped,” he says.

Nick took to social media for help.

The Chicagoland Petrolheads and Car Spotters is a Facebook page where folks post pictures of cars they like.

That’s where Nick shared word of his own stolen car, never realizing his story would go full throttle.

“It took off like crazy,” says Nick’s father Robert.

Within hours, hundreds of Petrolheads were sharing his post, hot on the trail of the stolen Camaro.

And then, bingo!

“There’s a lot of power to social media. More than I ever thought,” says Nick.

By sunrise, someone in the group spotted the car parked in a gravel lot in Pilsen.

Police towed it back to Tinley Park.

Even though the interior was roughed up a bit, and the thief is still at large, the auto family is reunited and it feels so good.

“You guys are the best. I will never talk bad about social media again,” says the elder Bratcher.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” adds Nick, very happy to be with his prized possession.