As with most gun owners, Don Wiebenga’s first firearm wasn’t something remarkable. It was an Ithaca 20-gauge pump shotgun bought new in 1973—a nice all-around hunting, defense, whatever-you-might-need-it-for gun.
According to this story from wzzm13.com, he only got to hang on to it for a few years.
“It was a good gun,” he said in the story. But only four years after he got it, somebody stole the gun during the 1977 Michigan deer season.
After striking out all morning, Wiebenga and his brother stopped at a restaurant for some grub.
“We just threw the guns in the back of the truck in their cases, put our clothes on top of them, and didn’t think nothing of it,” he said in the story.
While they were eating, someone snatched Wiebenga’s Ithaca right out of the truck bed.
Wiebenga filed a police report and listed the serial number as stolen. His insurance replaced the stolen shotgun with another that Wiebenga says he’s been hunting with ever since.
Then, out of nowhere, the story says he got a call last summer.
A young man was stopped for a minor traffic violation near Austin, Texas. Police found a shotgun, properly stored for transportation, in the man’s vehicle. The officer decided to run the serial number, which bounced back as Wiebenga’s stolen Ithaca.
The gun made its way to the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety and, eventually, back to Wiebenga. The young man who was found with the gun wasn’t charged with anything, since police couldn’t prove that he knew the gun was stolen…23 years before he was born.
“It has a few dings on the stock,” Wiebenga said in the story. “Just wonder where that gun has been.”