I’ll admit, this story from AutoClassics.com is incredibly light on details and I’ve had trouble finding other sources for it, but it’s fun, so what the hell: in Russia, a guy tries to steal three Ladas, on three separate occasions, and each time the Ladas break down before he can complete his crime. See, a Lada’s mechanical fragility isn’t a problem, it’s a security system!

The attempted car thief is said to be 22, and the Ladas were all stolen between September 11 and the 15. The cars were stolen via the usual methods, AutoClassics said:

Like something out of a pantomime, a 22 year-old car thief attempted to steal a trio of Ladas, only for every single one to break down in the process. Between 11th and 15th September he tried to get away with a pair of Lada 2106 and a Lada 1500 by picking their locks and hot-wiring the engine. His attempts worked, albeit extremely briefly.

Now apprehended, his nighttime activities have him in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on charges of car theft. It’s reportedly not his first offence either, with repeated household thefts to his name.

The cars were then, presumably, driven away for a bit before something failed, causing the cars to become much less mobile.

According to the story, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs has caught the thief and charged him with Grand Theft Shitbox, or whatever the term is in Russian. Would it be attempted theft? Or no, because the theft part was successful, it was the Lada that failed, unrelated to the intention of thievery? I’m not a Russian lawyer.

The story is so comical and evocative I really want to believe it’s true, and it’s certainly well within the realm of possibility. I really only have found one source for the story (other than a repeat on Yahoo News ), so take it with that grain of salt.

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Still, if no one has snatched up the movie rights to do this with Sascha Baron Cohen playing the thief, they should.

UPDATE 3:38 PM: Thanks to a reader named Simion, we have the original story, and it’s old as hell! I’m sorry about that. It’s from 2008, and it’s a great lesson in how strange the internet works, sometimes. Why the hell was this story republished on at least two sites (and with ours, three) today? I have no idea.

The other details are that these thefts happened in the Sverdlovsk region, and it wasn’t exactly that the cars broke down, but that three times the thief got stuck in a snowdrift. And, the reason he got stuck was that the steering wheel lock prevented him from steering!

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So, really, the Ladas did their jobs just fine! In fact, the simple steering wheel lock did its job fine, thwarting the theft. The first two cars seem to have been a Lada 2107 and a Lada 2106, with the third being a smaller Lada VAZ 1111 Oka.

The Oka’s steering wheel lock also defeated him, sending him into yet another snowbank.

So, there’s a big lesson here; the story published by AutoClassics and Yahoo is, charitably, mostly bullshit. It’s been re-cast as a joke about Lada mechanical instability, which, let’s be honest, isn’t really true. They’re not great cars, but they’re pretty robust, really.

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I apologize for my role in all this; it smelled odd to me, but it seemed like a funny enough thing for a Friday. I’m glad someone who knew Russian was able to hunt down the real story for me, because, really, it’s just as funny—attempted car thief makes the same stupid mistake three times—but it’s more fair to the Ladas.

Plus, you can just break the steering lock with enough force; Raph and I once did it to Raph’s old Baja Bug when he lost the key.