Church seeks mystery car donor

Volunteer turns detective to help turn used car into cash

  • Mar. 1, 2013 3:00 p.m.

Oak Bay United Church volunteer Don O’Coffey with the 2000 BMW 323 that was left anonymously as a donation at the church late last year.

Old mason jars, Harlequin romance novels and VHS tapes are among the bargains at most garage sales, but in the days leading up to Oak Bay United Church’s garage sale in December, an unusual item was dropped off: a 2000 BMW 323.

The car went unnoticed at first, but upon further investigation Don O’Coffey noticed keys inside the unlocked vehicle.

In addition to the keys, the mystery owner left an unsigned note with the BMW.

“Whoever left it wanted to donate it to the church,” said O’Coffey, a regular volunteer at the church. “They couldn’t afford the maintenance on it any more.”

Unfortunately, including missing plates, the BMW was also missing registration and ownership papers, which began a multi-province quest to transfer ownership to the church.

In hopes of finding answers to the mystery vehicle, O’Coffey first headed to Boorman’s Insurance, where he was able to contact ICBC. While the quest to find the owner may have seemed easy at first, O’Coffey discovered, due to the Freedom of Information Act, he was unable to get the name of the owner. But he did get a clue that would start another part of the investigation – the BMW isn’t registered in B.C. Instead, its papers originated in Saskatchewan.

“I sent Saskatchewan $10 only to find out they couldn’t give us any names because of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act, but did confirm it was registered in Saskatchewan,” O’Coffey said.

In hopes of avoiding a potentially three month-long process – which would declare the car abandoned – O’Coffey would like the owner to come forward and sign transfer forms, so they can proceed with selling the car for the benefit of the church.

“I think it’s common – particularly in Oak Bay – that older people donate their cars to charities like churches because they simply can’t afford the cost any more, and maybe aren’t using them,” O’Coffey said.

O’Coffey, who worked in the automotive industry for several years, said the BMW 323 needs some work but someone who is handy could do a lot of it themselves.

“ICBC told us in average condition it would be worth $6,000,” he said.

If you have any information on the car that could help the church, please contact the office at 250-598-5021.

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