Just a few nights ago this Laser Red 2002 Audi S4 was stolen in Washington state. Yesterday the cops found it in their very own parking lot, and the reason why gets an epic criminal facepalm. But the car was only recovered because enthusiasts had spread it all over the internet.

The car’s owner started posting descriptions of his stolen vehicle on March 17th, and folks quickly spread the word from the QuattroWorld Audi Enthusiasts forum and the Audi Club NW Facebook group. Update: the car was allegedly recognized on the street from a post on PNW Stolen Cars.

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Shortly after that, somebody (who cops are simply calling “an alert citizen”) recognized the car from a post, in the same town it was stolen from, and recorded it with their phone. They also followed the Audi... straight to the Bellevue Washington State Patrol district office.

No, the Audi’s driver (36-year-old Micah Hatcher) wasn’t turning himself in.

Police say Hatcher was arrested just a few days earlier and had come back to the cop shop “to retrieve some belongings taken during his initial arrest.” In a stolen car. That you could see from a mile away, and probably hear too as the owner said it has an SSAC exhaust.

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The Good Guy citizen who recognized the car came in right behind Hatcher and broke it down to cops, who made “the easiest auto theft arrest they’d ever had.” Score one for the car community!

King 5 News talked to the guy who spotted the Audi for a video segment. He told them he was able to “put two and two together” after recognizing the car’s modifications from a Facebook post. “I watched the suspect appear to alter the VIN number for a half hour, just right on the side of the street,” he said. After he called 911; “They told me you can either leave or continue to follow the vehicle at your own discretion, and I thought to myself that if it was my car, I would really want someone to do the same for me.”

Hat tips to Arpad, @AudiForLife, Dan, and everybody that spread the word about this missing Audi!

Image via Audi Club NW and the Washington State Patrol


Contact the author at andrew@jalopnik.com.