Tuesday, November 19, 2013

They Shoot Car Thieves Don't They?

Guy L. Algar
Motorheads Performance
ASE Certified Technician

I love old Western movies. Growing up on John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and others who fed my appetite for adventure. As I entered my teens, my attention turned to another type of horsepower...cars. And not just any car, I preferred the oldies. My very first car was a 1955 Chevy Belair that I saved up for and purchased before I even got my drivers permit. I still have that car.

Oh, I still had interest in the old Western movies, and now that I turned my training and work experience as a mechanical engineer to running my own classic car repair and performance shop, I find that my two worlds collide with the question of how to get a handle on the ever-growing problem of car theft. When I hear stories of treasured classic cars being taken from owners who have poured blood, sweat, tears and loads of money into their rides...only to have them ruthlessly parted out, I get upset.

Old West Hanging
Photo Credit: Legendsofamerica.com

That's when I return to my Western movie roots. Back in the early years of America, the horse WAS the equivalent of the car. A horse was essential to one's survival. It was a family's means of transportation and of providing food and housing by plowing fields, herding cattle and sheep, carting timber, pulling wagons and transporting people across all sorts of terrain and in all types of weather that we, alone, could not have accomplished. And, more importantly, the value of horses was widely recognized. Without your horse it was commonly thought that you were as good as dead.

This is why horse thieves were shot or hanged. To steal one's horse you were taking away their livelihood. A common phrase heard in the Old West was, "There ain't nothing lower than a horse thief!"

My opinion is that today's automobile, whether it's a classic car, muscle car, old vintage truck, antique, sports car, hot rod, or a modern car, is essential to us. We depend on our cars for so much in our daily lives in most all areas outside of the big cities where alternatives exist that can replace the need for cars.

So how do we stop car thieves?


If stealing a horse was seen as a hanging offense in the Old West, why not send a message to modern day car thieves by making the punishment for car theft just as bold?

Thieves today know that the justice system is broken. They know that with a good lawyer, or perhaps even with a public defender, they stand a good chance of getting off with a slap on the wrist. And it's a slap in the face of those of us who pour our heart and souls into the restoration of pieces of American history. If there is no fear of just punishment, the crimes will go unchecked and more of us will become victims.

The preceding is only an Opinion Article. I raise it in an attempt to get people to begin looking at where we stand in our attempts to Keep Our Rides Safe. On a much bigger scale, where we are plunging head-first in  "political correctness" that threatens many of the building-blocks that made America a great country. Preserving the "rights" of the few should not override or hinder the rights of all others, and it should not override good common sense. I realize that we can't and shouldn't return to the days of hangings and public lynchings. We all have rights of due process. At the same time, we need answers to the epidemic of car theft. Automobiles are our modern day livelihood and few can afford to have them taken from us.

REFERENCES:
legendsofamerica.com - Lynchings and Hangings in America
mnhs.org - The Waseca County Horse Thief Detectives
netposse.com - Old West: Wyatt Earp - Was Wyatt A Horse Thief?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Guy L. Algar is co-owner of a classic car performance and restoration design shop in Leesville, Texas. Motorheads Performance specializes in repairs, maintenance, performance upgrades and restorative work on cars and trucks from the 1920’s through 1970’s. Guy Algar is a Mechanical Engineer with over 25 years experience. He holds 5 ASE Certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and has been working on old cars and trucks for over 37 years. Together with his wife Andrea they share their passion for old cars and trucks with other enthusiasts from around the country.

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