When burglars broke into Tom Jenkins’ cabin in Side Lake, Virginia, they stole a TV, a microwave, a leaf blower, a chain saw, a battery charger and more. But he cared about none of it – the only thing he wanted back was the 1948 Willys Jeep the thieves also made off with.
The Jeep was purchased by Jenkins’ great uncle, who purchased it new in 1948 and kept it at the family’s Side Lake cabin ever since. Jenkins learned how to drive in the Jeep, as did many other of his family members, which made him feel as though he had let his family down when it was stolen while under his possession.
“From ‘48 on, we all learned on this vehicle — how to drive, go off road, pull the boat around,” Jenkins said. “We were driving that thing at 10 or 12 years old to the Side Lake store and back getting groceries for grandma and stuff.”
“The jeep really has been a part of the lives of every one of my family members,” he added. “It’s the most cherished and greatest memory we have of Side Lake.”
After being stolen sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, local authorities got a tip as to where Jenkins’ Jeep may be. A police officer an Chisholm saw a report in regards to the missing Jeep and spotted it on a business property in nearby Chisholm. After tracking it down, they called Jenkins with the good news.
“The officers remembered how a guy had talked about recently buying a jeep, and they went to the property to look, and sure enough it was there,” Jenkins said.
“He paid $3,000 and didn’t get a title, but he had not realized it was stolen,” he added. “But now I have it back, and it’s being driven back to my cabin to be put in the garage as we speak.”
Jenkins’ Jeep is back home and ready for another summer at Side Lake. And As for the thief that stole it to begin with? He’s in custody on a separate charge as authorities investigate further into the burglary of Jenkins’ cabin.
Photo via Mesabi Daily News