Highland Park man inherited his mom’s beloved Thunderbird — then police ‘stole’ it

Bob Nelson is so angry he’s shaking.

His beloved 1985 Ford Thunderbird that he parked outside his home in Highland Park is gone.

And he knew who took it.

The 57-year-old handyman and author recently sank most of his money to tow the car from Ottawa County, where his mother lived until her death on Thanksgiving Day.

“She wanted me to have that car,” Nelson tells Metro Times. “She knew how much it meant to me.”

When he was 32, Nelson traded his brother a 1987 Porsche 924 for the Thunderbird. Then on his mom’s birthday in 2001, Nelson gifted her the Thunderbird.

After she died from lung cancer, Nelson towed the car more than 180 miles and parked it outside his home on the 30o block of Geneva. He deflated the tires to deter thieves from stealing it.

Then on Thursday, Highland Park police stuck an orange tag on the Thunderbird, saying the car “may be impounded if it is not removed within 48 hours” because it lacked a license plate.

Less than 48 hours later, Nelson returned to his home with a compressor and jack to fill the tires with air and move it to his neighbor’s backyard, where he had permission to park it.

But the car was gone.

Even though 48 hours hadn’t passed, police called a tow truck to remove the car and take it to an impound lot.

Nelson says police failed to record the vehicle identification number, as required by law, and inaccurately described his vehicle as a Pontiac Firebird.

While he was in church on Easter, an employee from Troy’s Towing told him the car would not be released until he presents the title for the car. Nelson doesn’t know where the title is and doesn’t have enough money to get a new one from the Secretary of State’s office.

He’s heartbroken and angry. Nelson can’t understand why a crime-riddled city like Highland Park would spend its limited resources on towing a car from a block where he’s the only homeowner with a vehicle.

“I pretty much bankrupted myself to get that car here,” Nelson says. “I’m so fucking pissed I’m shaking. It’s fucking ridiculous. The police stole the car. I don’t have the money to bail this car out. I broke myself getting this car here.”

Nelson was so enraged that he sought mental health counseling on Monday.

“I went into a psychotic rage,” Nelson says. “I can barely talk about it. My mother wanted me to have that car back. I’m in emotional turmoil about it. If I had the money, I’d get it out.”

Nelson suspects the cash-strapped city seized his car as a quick money grab.

“They are motivated by greed,” he insists. “You want to have broken windows policing on the only mother fucker who has a vehicle on the block? No one is trying to move here. This is third-world antics. It’s like living in Russia.”

Nelson says he plans to file a federal lawsuit against the city, claiming city officials violated his 14th Amendment rights by depriving him of due process of law.

“I’m going to ask the court for a restraining order to stop Highland Park from doing anything to that car,” Nelson says. “The city ordinance doesn’t supersede the U.S. Constitution. That orange tag doesn’t mean shit.”

Nelson says police should focus on unsolved murders and the prostitutes who “give blowjobs” near his house.

“It’s not like this is a controversial hot spot of parking where people are getting into fights and shootouts over parking,” Nelson says. “I’m a litigious prick. It’s real simple to rectify this. They have to give me my car back and don’t worry about what the fuck I have parked outside my house ever again. Ever. Don’t ever put me through this mental aggravation again.”

Metro Times couldn’t reach interim police Chief James McMahon or Mayor Glenda McDonald for comment.

A manager at Troy’s Towing wasn’t available to answer questions.

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