Oscar-winning director Quinten Tarantino’s cherry red Chevelle Malibu has resurfaced after nearly two decades, thanks to a vigilant sheriff’s deputy here, officials said.
“Deputy (Carlos) Arrieta did a really good job with this case,” said Sgt. Albert Anolin of the sheriff’s Victorville station. “He took what many would’ve seen as a minor case and followed it through until it broke this much larger case. ”
Tarantino’s 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu, stolen in 1994 during the production of “Pulp Fiction,” was recovered in the Oakland area this past week, according to law enforcement officials investigating the case.
The iconic Malibu was driven in the film by John Travolta’s character, Vince Vega.
On April 18, Arrieta spotted two men near Mojave Vista Elementary School at Seventh and Burwood avenues around 7:45 p.m., Anolin said.
It appeared the men were stripping an older Chevrolet Malibu, so Arrieta approached them. Arrieta ran the vehicle identification number and learned it was registered for a Malibu in the Oakland area, according to reports.
One of the men insisted the Malibu had been his since the 1970s.
Arrieta called in the San Bernardino County Auto Theft Task Force and handed over the investigation to district attorney’s Senior Investigator Carlos Flores and California Highway Patrol Officer Brian Leyva.
According to sheriff’s reports, investigators learned the VIN number for the Chevrolet found in Victorville legitimately belonged to that car, but it hadn’t been registered with the state Department of Motor Vehicles for several decades.
Detectives contacted authorities in the Bay Area to alert them to the VIN match for a 1964 Chevrolet Malibu in their area.
Bay Area investigators contacted the owner of that Malibu and learned that that vehicle had a cloned VIN number on it. Further investigation revealed the Malibu found in the Bay Area was in fact Tarantino’s vehicle stolen in 1994, authorities said.
The man in possession of Tarantino’s stolen Malibu is not believed to be involved in the theft and is considered to be a victim of a fraud, authorities said.
The vehicle was recovered only a few weeks after the filmmaker’s 50th birthday on March 27. It was unclear if the vehicle has been returned to him as of Friday.
The man Arrieta initially contacted last week was arrested on suspicion of an unrelated crime, sheriff’s officials said, though his name has not been released.
“Arrieta used the resources available to him and was able to help crack this case,” Anolin said of the deputy who’s been at the Victorville station for about two years. “He’s a good deputy. ”
The case is still under investigation.