CLEVELAND (WJW) – It was hard for Tom Laskowski to stop smiling.
And that smile only grew bigger, when he opened the driver’s side door of his 1968 Pontiac Tempest, for the first time in nearly a decade.
“It feels fantastic,” Laskowski told the Fox 8 I-Team. “Finally.”
Laskowski and his wife, Cheryl, on Tuesday, were reunited with their classic car that was stolen from them in 2012.
“The people that took this, I don’t think they realized what they did,” Cheryl Laskowski said, as tear fell down her face. “They changed his life. They changed our lives. They took 10 years from us.”
She said they would go to car shows and races with the car. When the car was stolen that stopped.
And Tom said the car is priceless to him. He said his father gave him the vehicle in 1975. He drove it through college, and drove it the night he picked Cheryl up for their first date.
“When we got married it was in our wedding party,” Laskowski said. “So it had a lot of sentimental value.”
He spent close to $100,000 fixing it up.
They never stopped looking for it, and by chance Tom’s good friend spotted it in November. Tom and his friends were then able to locate it in a driveway in Maple Heights. Even though the car was made to look like a GTO, Tom knew it was his Tempest.
“It was very obvious it was my car,” Tom said. “I had hundreds of things that we changed. I knew what I did on that car.”
Tom then took all the information and pictures he had to the Ohio State Highway Patrol Vehicle Theft Unit.
Sgt. Ray Santiago said it didn’t take long for investigators to determine that car was the stolen 1968 Pontiac Tempest.
“The victim provided us with extensive documentation, and photographs of his refurbishing process,” said Lt. Darren Huggins. “We confirmed that and it matched up. It was his car.”
A few months later, William Woods, of Maple Heights was indicted on a receiving stolen property charge. His case is still pending in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
“We are glad we were able to help him,” Huggins said. “A happy ending.”