Family shocked after stolen car tests positive for meth, fentanyl when returned

A stolen car returned without major damage—usually a reason to celebrate.

"We were relieved to get it back," Jake Culver said. "We were relieved right up until my wife’s friend told her about her experience with a stolen car."

The Culver family of Pierce County already had their ride back, a 2002 Ford F350, when concern started to set in.

"She asked us, 'Had we had it tested for drugs?' And we said, 'No, why would we?'" Jake said.

Using the same company their insurance hires to test for biohazards, Jake believed the report would come back negative. Instead, it showed traces of methamphetamine exceeded national safe exposure limits by eight times, while fentanyl returned two times higher than acceptable.

"My wife just broke down in tears when I told her the results of the test," he said. "My heart sank. If she had inhaled the fentanyl or something like that, I mean, who knows where we'd be right now."

The Culvers feel their insurance failed to protect them, considering the company often tests for the presence of drugs in stolen cars before they're returned, but didn't for the Culvers.

"I expect the people paid to help us through these troubles would actually do their job, and that’s more shocking, frankly, than the drug use and the car theft," he said. "We can't undo the exposure my family experienced, but we can hopefully educate other people who do get their cars back or are about to get their cars back that they need to have these things tested every single time. Without question."

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Jake reports his children, aged 10, eight, and five years old, experienced sleep disruptions and upset stomachs, while he felt headaches after the few drives they took together.

Fortunately, their family had the truck back for less than a week before having it tested. Still, any exposure at those levels poses a considerable risk to human health.