December 14, 2009 in City

Allstate will auction stolen VW van

By The Spokesman-Review
The Spokesman-Review photo

The only photo Michele Squires has of her stolen van is this one taken in the 1970s with a friend.
(Full-size photo)

Allstate Insurance Co. will auction a 1965 VW bus found 35 years after it was stolen from a Spokane woman and donate the proceeds to an organization that helps homeless women and children.

The announcement ends weeks of uncertainty about the van and whether its former owner, Michele “Mikey” Squires of Spokane, might somehow get it back. It also leaves the German buyer of the restored van – which changed hands several times and regained an apparently clean title – on the hook for more than $20,000.

Allstate announced it would auction the van and donate the proceeds to Lydia Place, a homeless shelter for women and children in Bellingham.

“It’s our hope that the tremendous public interest in this unique vehicle and its unique history will translate into a significant contribution to Lydia Place,” said Michelle Lee, field vice president of Allstate’s northwest region.

Squires, a 58-year-old manager at the Cathay Inn, owned the van in the 1970s before it was stolen from the parking lot of an upholstery shop. Allstate paid a claim of $2,500 and became the legal owner. In October, the van was seized by customs agents after a check of its vehicle identification number turned up the theft from 1974.

The story drew nationwide attention, and people from all over the country contacted Squires and lobbied Allstate to return the van to her. Squires said today that she and her boyfriend plan to enter a bid in the online auction for the van, but doubts that the several thousand they can afford will be enough.

“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “Of course, I’d like to have it. It’s brought back a whole bunch of good memories. I’ve got a good story for my grandkids.”

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