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.
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.