Two days ago, tragedy struck. In a video posted to YouTube (opens in new tab), former most-subbed Twitch streamer of all time Ludwig Ahgren announced that his “prize possession”—an imported 1997 Subaru Sambar microvan—had been stolen. It had been taken from outside the warehouse where Ahgren films his podcast—The Yard—during LA’s recent rainstorms (opens in new tab). The bad weather had knocked out the site’s power, meaning people leaving had been forced to leave the electric gate wide open and the Sambar ripe for the taking.
As reported by Kotaku (opens in new tab), it didn’t take the internet long to track the van down. Barely a day after Ahgren posted his video, a Reddit user named iwantaguineapig (opens in new tab) posted a video of the Sambar—parked in such a way that its licence plate was unreadable—in the LA neighbourhood of Sylmar.
After a little bit of a runaround (the van had vanished the first time Ahgren, who is currently in Texas, could get someone to Sylmar to scope out the scene), Ahgren’s assistant Nick Yingling and collaborator Anthony Bruno tracked down the van in the same spot that evening. Unable to get the cops to come and lend a hand, they decided to just use their own van key and take it back themselves. There was just one problem: Someone was in it.
SAVING PRIVATE SANBARi’ll tell the whole story on the pod next week pic.twitter.com/EcIF1kANeXMarch 1, 2023
As you can see in the video above, Yingling only noticed the driver’s shadow—emitting a breathless “There’s-someone-in-the-car!”—at the precise moment they opened the door, prompting the pair to beat feet away from the van in fear of a confrontation neither of them were prepared for. But instead of a hardened criminal, they found a slightly perplexed man.
Realising they had not disturbed the Al Capone of Japanese microvan theft, Yingling and Bruno began negotiating. “Hey bro, we’ve gotta take it back,” said one of the pair, to which the figure in the van responded “Take what back?” The video posted to Twitter cuts off shortly thereafter, but we know what happened thanks to an update video posted by Ahgren (opens in new tab) yesterday.
According to Ahgren, the figure sitting in the Sambar told Yingling and Bruno that he was not the one responsible for stealing it. Instead, he said it had been given to him in lieu of cash by an associate who owed him money. Then, in a move that’s honestly kind of admirable for its brazenness, he said he’d return the car if the pair—who had their own working key and to whom the van clearly belonged—gave him $10,000, almost double the $5,500 Ahgren originally paid for it (minus import fees).
When Yingling decided that calling the cops again would be a better option, the guy in the van slammed the door shut and took off in the van. But rather than sell or stash his hot property, he drove it to a massage parlour the next day, where it was spotted by another Reddit user named suufferPNG (opens in new tab). This time, the cops did show up, prompting the van’s driver to flee on foot. Yingling was there shortly after, the truck was recovered, and all was well a mere two days after Ahgren’s original video announcing the theft was posted.
we got it back pic.twitter.com/GRvsfwV1AgMarch 2, 2023
There’s probably a moral here, but I’ll be damned if I can tell you what it is. Sometimes the collective power of the internet can achieve positive ends? That one sounds a little dicey. How about: Don’t steal incredibly recognisable vehicles from celebrities with millions of fans, and then super don’t just drive them to a public parking lot outside a massage parlour in broad daylight after being confronted about it? That’s a lesson we can all learn from.