Couple Find Their Stolen Van Thanks to Facebook
Travel| | By Valerie Cools
We like to joke that Facebook is all about cat memes (and, these days, arguments about politics), but sometimes it can really make a difference.
French couple Fanny and Loïc had just had a baby, and decided to spend their first summer as a family in style: by taking a road trip across Europe. They had been saving up for this, and bought a brand new yellow Volkswagen van to travel and sleep in. In early July, they set out on this adventure with their 2-month-old daughter.
Some days later, they parked near Barcelona, in Spain, and spent the day exploring. Upon their return, they were horrified to find that the van, and everything in it, had been stolen.
“We only had a five percent charge left on our cell phones,” Fanny told Le Parisien. “We had no chargers, no ID, no milk, and no diapers. And we didn’t speak Spanish.”
The couple managed to contact their insurance company, and the family was flown back home. They had lost 60,000 euros (over $67,000 dollars) worth of gear and equipment, including the van. It seemed the adventure was over. Or was it?
Fanny took to Facebook and posted about the theft, giving all the details and asking people to share the post with the slim hope that someone would spot the van and report it. She even created a Facebook page, Find The Yellow Van, and had her original French message translated into Spanish, German, and English.
“Wherever you can be, France, Germany, Spain, Italy…” said the English translation, “please share this message as much as you can! Keep your eyes open if you are on holidays or on the road… a yellow van is pretty uncommon?!”
Compassionate people immediately answered their call throughout Europe.
“It was insane,” said Fanny. “People were sending us pictures of yellow vans from Belgium and Portugal. People were writing to us from all over Europe with suggestions of pages we could post to, such as one for French people in Barcelona.”
Two days and over 100,000 shares later, their efforts paid off. A trucker reported seeing a yellow van in a town near Barcelona, where an illegal payment had been made on one of the couple’s bank cards. Fanny and Loïc looked up the place on Google Maps and called a nearby hotel, where the receptionist stepped outside and confirmed the car’s license plate number.
The van was immediately secured by local police, before Loïc flew in to retrieve it. While all of its contents had been taken, and the car itself was slightly damaged, it was in working order.
The grateful family has moved on from the incident and isn’t letting one bad travel experience deter them. They are currently exploring the beautiful shores of Brittany, proving that this mishap has not soured them on adventure.
It just goes to show, in these hyper-connected times, a long shot can be all you need. As the family concludes in their post, “Solidarity is stronger than the injustice.”