Now A Bunch Of People Are Apparently Calling Ford To Return Items Stolen From The Detroit Train Station

Michigan Central Station in 2015.
Michigan Central Station in 2015.
Photo: Carlos Osorio (AP)

In case you hadn’t heard the obscure, sparsely covered and rarely opined-about news, Ford bought a train station recently—Detroit’s famous ruin, Michigan Central Station. People are so moved by it all that they’re calling up Ford and offering up all of the items they’ve stolen from the station over the years.

It all started with someone who had a stolen clock from the station, which has been closed and falling into disrepair for three decades. The person reached out to Ford anonymously and said the clock had been missing for 20 years and was “ready to go home.” The exchange and subsequent scavenger hunt for the clock was fascinating.

Here’s a refresher on what happened with the clock, from the Detroit Free Press:

The exchange went like this:

Thief: “I only have the clock. No other material. I left it leaning against a burned-out building on Lawton. It is between Warren and Buchanan. The building is between the train tracks and 4470 Lawton. Please send two men and a truck immediately. It has been missing for over 20 years and is ready to go home. Thank you so much.”

Ford Land: “Thank you! I will try to send a crew right now.”

Thief: “Please have them lay it face up in the truck. The paint is very delicate. You can tell the front from the back by looking at the exposed legs.”


That was just the beginning. The Detroit Free Press now reports that Ford has gotten about two dozen calls in regards to recovery and refurbishment, and that the company is making a list of things it’s been offered to check authenticity.

Here’s some of the stuff Ford has heard about, from the Freep:

“This is like no other process I’ve ever seen,” said Dave Dubensky, chairman and CEO of Ford Land. “We’ve touched the community in such a way that it compels them to call us and offer things back and even offer money.”

He continued, “One individual offered a plaster medallion of flowers original to the train depot. We’ve had multiple calls about lights, and another individual that has an original fountain from the depot.”

The Freep also said not all of the calls have involved stolen property, and that Ford has people offering donations, assistance and all sorts of help. But for now, the Freep reports, “the focus is tracking down lost treasures.”

From the story:

Ford has assembled a “wish list” of items taken from the depot over the 30 years it was vacant, including light fixtures, the clock that hung above the ticket window, ticket window grills, elevator transom panels and decorative ornaments surrounding the large steel windows.

“Lighting is our No. 1 request,” Dubensky said. “There are many missing historic elements that tell the story.”

He urged the public to come forward with missing items, no questions asked, and call his assistant Donnell Elwood, who can be reached at 313-322-1092.


It’s worth noting that a lot of these thieves stole pieces from the station because they wanted to preserve something beautiful that had been left to rot. Now that the train station is being restored, it seems many former scavengers are happy to hand over their loot. The clock thief was no exception.

“Thank you so much,” the person later texted Ford.I loved that clock and I loved that station.”

Staff writer, Jalopnik

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When a building on the college campus where I live was scheduled for demolition, my thoughts immediately turned to these beautiful chunky mahogany handrails that ran through 4 stories of the building (I had worked in this building a few years early). I knew the operations manager for the university and asked him for permission to loot the building (it was being wired for demo the next week). He hinted strongly that he could not officially allow me to, but that there was a spot in the fence that was open, and that if we were caught, to drop his name. My dad and I spent 2 or 3 hours taking cool stuff from the building, massive vintage clocks, glass cabinets, all the handrails, light fixtures. It was pretty surreal, as there was graffiti on the walls from departing staff, and birds flying around the building.