The Facebook message gave the glimpse of the despair a Prairie Village couple felt after someone swiped their 26-foot-long vintage trailer just hours after they last checked on it.
“Last night someone stole my 1962 Airstream Overlander …,” Catie Ebert posted shortly before 1 p.m. Saturday. “PLEASE keep your eyes out and let me know or call the police if you happen to see it. I am hoping I have enough friends in KC that someone may spot it and I can get it back.
“This was my grandfather’s and I had just finished restoring it.”
That plea had been shared more then 3,400 times on Facebook by Monday morning.
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Clint and Catie Ebert took the trailer to Top Master Inc. in 2800 block of Roe Lane in Kansas City, Kan., on Friday so that counter tops could be installed. Because the silicone needed to dry, they left the trailer there overnight.
“It was there for less than 24 hours,” Catie Ebert said Monday. “I was actually there picking something up out of it at 11:30 at night. When my husband went back the next morning at 8:30, it was gone.”
The trailer had a ball-hitch lock on it, so Ebert doesn’t think it would have been easy to steal.
It once belonged to her grandfather, Robert Mauch, and was used by the family across the country and down to Mexico.
“I took trips in it as a baby,” said Ebert, who shared a photo of her grandfather and grandmother, Ida May, standing outside the trailer.
Ebert rescued the trailer from a family farm in Kaufman, Texas, where it was rotting away in a field of dirt. She had been taking care of an uncle and had for years begged him to sell her the trailer. About six years ago, he gave her it for her birthday.
It was in bad shape. Ebert put new tires on it and helped her dad tow it back to Kansas City, even though it had terrible bearings.
“When we pulled it up highway, snakes were falling out the back,” she said. “It was so rotted out. The only thing in good shape was the shell.”
The last six years has been a labor of love as she restored it. She gutted it and installed a new sub-floor and plumbing.
“We’ve rebuilt everything,” she said. “The last piece of the puzzle was those counter tops.”
The Eberts dropped off the trailer about 9 a.m. Friday at Top Master. The work was completed by 7:30 p.m. The Eberts checked on the trailer again at 11:30 p.m. after watching a movie at the nearby Boulevard Drive-In.
“Everything looked good,” she said. “The ball lock that requires you to weld the thing off was still secure. Everything was locked up and nobody was around.”
Yet Saturday morning, there was no sign that the trailer ever had been there.
“The feeling of losing that thing is like losing a family member,” Ebert said. “I have spent so much time and love on that.”
Ebert, who is a Realtor, canceled her appointments Saturday. Her husband took away her keys so she wouldn’t drive distraught.
They drove around for four hours looking for it. They even got help from owners of a nearby gun shop who viewed surveillance video to see if their cameras picked up any clues as to who might have stolen the trailer.
During the renovation process, someone offered Ebert more than $30,000 for the trailer. She turned it down, saying “I appreciate it and I like that you like it. But no. My kids will take trips in it and that will never ever sell.”
Ebert said she turned to Facebook hoping her close circle of friends might share the news. She never thought her post would be shared by so many people.
The Eberts hope that if someone sees the trailer, they will call police.
In addition to being a vintage Airstream, the trailer is distinctive because it has been polished, except for a flat strip on the top.
“It looks like a completely redone trailer except for this ugly strip on top,” she said. “It is super noticeable.”
The trailer had a Texas tag of 5DF284.
Ebert doesn’t know how much she has spent on the renovations but it has been tens of thousands of dollars.
“I never thought I would sell it,” Ebert said. “You don’t think how much you are spending because you are not worried how much you’re spending. It’s going to be with you forever.”
The trailer contained family historical documents and pictures, including her grandparents’ Airstream membership numbers, papers from their international travels and original manuals.
“It’s not just a trailer,” Ebert said. “A vintage Airstream is always going to be something special to somebody — something non-replaceable to somebody. There’s a reason those of us who have vintage trailers have vintage trailers instead of the nice new ones with the technology.
“It is not something that insurance can replace. It’s part of me and part of my family.… I just want it back.”
To reach Robert A. Cronkleton, call 816-234-4261 or send email to email@example.com.