Updated at the bottom with the condition of Travolta's ride, with photos of the leftovers. First posted at 12:20 p.m.
The movie Gone in 60 Seconds, every 20-year-old frat boy's favorite "cult" film about stealing the dream rides on their dorm room walls, featured a motley crew of high-tech antiheroes who could swipe a Mercedes before you could finish saying, "Whole Foods parking lot."
Outlandish. Fantastic. And utterly enjoyable for the inner car guy inside all men.
But John Travolta, of all people, seems to have helped cops uncover a real Gone in 60 Seconds theft ring, at least according to what police are alleging:
The September street theft of Travolta's beloved 1970 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL in Santa Monica set off an investigation that turned up video of two suspects in the act of stealing Travolta's ride:
And so two men were arrested and connected to a Gone in 60 Seconds-type ring, cops announced today.
The star parked his convertible in the 1400 block of Berkeley Street to check out cars at a nearbly dealership, which was closed, on a Sunday afternoon.
Santa Monica police say that after they opened their investigation into the Sept. 18 theft and distributed photos of a car that looked just like the rare brown Merc, tips poured in.
The SMPD enlisted the help of the Taskforce for Regional Auto theft Prevention (TRAP), and evidence eventually led investigators to these two, police say:
Michael Green, 58, and D.L. Rayford Jr., 52, who were arrested last month.
According to a Santa Monica police statement the two are tied to ...
... a sophisticated car theft ring which targeted older model Mercedes, and muscle cars ...
Yeah, they got JT's Merc back, with ...
... eight stolen vehicles and miscellaneous parts of other vehicles having been recovered. Mr. Travolta's vehicle was among the property recovered.
Still, it sounds like the ring is still being investigated. Cops want anyone who knows more to drop a dime: 310-458-8495.
[Update at 5 p.m.]: Looks like that precious SL might not be stayin' alive. Authorities say it was actually found in pieces, according to City News Service.
CNS also followed up on the status of the suspects:
Green is charged with two counts of grand theft auto -- involving Travolta's vehicle and another Mercedes. He is due Feb. 8 at the Airport Branch Courthouse, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require him to stand trial.
Green is also facing a probation violation hearing in a petty theft with a prior case in which a 20-year prison term had been suspended, according to Jane Robison of the District Attorney's Office.
Rayford pleaded no contest to one count of grand theft auto and was sentenced Jan. 5 to 16 months in state prison, Robison said.
[Added at 5:10 p.m.]: Actually, to say the car was recovered might be an overstatement, according to what SMPD Sgt. Richard Lewis just told us.
The only items found were the hub caps, seats, speedometer, and molding -- "just pieces," he told the Weekly.
The engine, body and frame are M.I.A. Can you say salvage title?
Pics, courtesy the SMPD:
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And these Merc seats, the photo of which came out really small for some reason: