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The Car Was Found in the Backyard of a San Francisco Mansion

The Car Was Found in the Backyard of a San Francisco Mansion

Owner of car buried at Bay Area mansion had reported it stolen, collected $87,000 insurance payout

By Michael Roberts

1 May 2016


A man who owned a car buried for decades in the backyard of a San Francisco mansion, reported it stolen and collected a $87,000 insurance settlement, and then disappeared.

The car, a 1980 Ford Thunderbird, was reported stolen in the 1980s and then rediscovered in the backyard in 2003. The home was located on the top floor of a three-million-dollar, seven-story home, known as The Cottages at Point Lobos, in Potrero Hill. The house was listed on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ website in 2014 and 2016 as a property worth $5.5 million.

The home had just undergone a $50 million renovation but the car was not.

According to records obtained by the San Francisco Examiner, the car was reported stolen in June 1980, when it was worth $6,000. The owner, identified as George R. Lappin, had reported it stolen in June of that year, and later collected the insurance settlement of $87,000. Then, the car went missing once more.

Lappin never filed a police report regarding the car’s disappearance. In a statement, he said he was “appalled” to learn that his home had been entered and a person had rummaged through the storage room on the second floor.

Lappin’s daughter, Ann, told The Peninsula Times that when her father died in 2001, his wife, Virginia, told her to destroy the keys and to destroy the car in the storage room.

According to records obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, a few days after her father died, Virginia Lappin had listed both the home and its storage room on the public record. The storage room was on the second floor of the mansion, which had two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

The storage room at The Cottages at Point Lobos

In a letter to the police, Virginia Lappin, who had spent years caring for her sick husband, wrote that “I am the sole owner of the house and the contents of the Storage room in the backyard. Mr. Lappin has no title to

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