It already had been a rough start to the year for Rickey Polidore Jr., who lost his father to COVID-19 about a month ago. Then he lost his pickup truck, which was stolen late Tuesday night in the Heights area, and he thought it was gone for good.
Less than 12 hours later, though, Polidore was feeling fortunate. The Houston artist also felt a special connection to his late father.
Rickey Polidore Sr. must have been looking out for his son from above, the younger Polidore said, because his 2005 Chevy Silverado – which contained his father’s death certificate and was in the process of being transformed into an art car – was found mostly unharmed and intact Wednesday morning near Aldine-Westfield Road. It was spotted by a trooper for the Texas Department of Public Safety, according to the Houston Police Department, and Polidore was reunited with his truck shortly thereafter.
“I’m thankful. I feel like a served citizen,” Polidore said. “It was pretty quick.”
HPD spokesperson Kese Smith said the truck was reported stolen early Wednesday morning from the 4600 block of Norhill Blvd., where Polidore said he had parked it while visiting a friend nearby. Once he saw it was missing, Polidore said he figured his truck would be pilfered for parts because it is a popular model.
So he said he was pleasantly surprised to find that only a stereo speaker and amplifier were missing. The steering column also had been damaged and the ignition was ripped out, which enabled the thief or thieves to hotwire it, Smith said.
Smith said it is not uncommon for stolen vehicles to be recovered, even in such a short period of time, because sometimes they are stolen and used to commit a subsequent crime, then abandoned after the fact.
“There’s nothing in the report to indicate that (happened in this case),” Smith said.
Polidore said he has “no idea” who stole his truck or why, but he suspects a quirk in how it operates may have helped him get it back. He said the gasoline gauge is broken and stuck on empty, so he suspects the person or people who stole it might have thought the truck was about to run out of gas.
Now Polidore, who said he writes art curriculum for Houston ISD, will continue transforming the truck into an art car. He already has done some work to the interior.
He wants to go retro with it, making it look like a 1968 Chevy on the outside with a 1970s-themed interior. Once that happens, the truck figures to have a better backstory than Polidore’s two other art cars.
He also hopes it will be less attractive to car thieves.
“Finally, when I’m ready to turn it into an art car, it gets stolen. Now I’m going to make sure to turn it into an art car so it’ll be a theft deterrent,” Polidore said with a laugh. “I’ve never had someone steal my art cars before, so I think the best way to keep this one is to start welding on it.”