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Zoinks! Villain plows replica 'Mystery Machine' into St. Paul home

ST. PAUL -- Zoinks! A van painted to look like the Mystery Machine van from "Scooby-Doo" crashed into a home in St. Paul early Friday, and police soon learned it had been stolen.

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A 1997 Dodge van painted to look like one driven by the cast of the animated series "Scooby-Doo" crashed into a St. Paul home early Friday. (St. Paul police photo via Twitter)
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ST. PAUL -- Zoinks! A van painted to look like the Mystery Machine van from “Scooby-Doo” crashed into a home in St. Paul early Friday, and police soon learned it had been stolen.

No injuries were reported, but the custom-painted van sustained front-end damage.

Guy Frechette was sleeping at about 3 a.m. Friday when St. Paul police officers knocked on his door in the Payne-Phalen area, a few miles from the crash site, to tell him about his van. Frechette didn’t know it was missing but learned it had been stolen from in front of his home in the 700 block of East Nevada Avenue.

“When the police knock on your door that early in the morning, it can never be good news,” Frechette said. “But no one died, and it’s just a van when it comes down to it. We paint it, we have fun with it.”

The van is the third Mystery Machine his family has owned. It all started when Frechette’s son, Avery, was about 3 or 4 years old and they got a van “painted yellow and pretty rusty,” Frechette said. He told the boy they could paint it however he wanted.

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Frechette and Avery were heading to get paint and stopped at McDonald’s, where the boy got a Happy Meal. He opened it and said, “Dad, can I really paint it however I want?” Frechette assured him he could. Avery showed him what he’d found in his Happy Meal: a toy Mystery Machine van.

Avery told his dad, “I want to paint it like this!”

So they matched the paint colors, and Frechette said he painted the van with his wife, children and “half the neighborhood kids.”

“We’ve had three vans now,” Frechette said. “Every time the van got old enough and we had to junk it out, the kids would ask, ‘Are we going to have another Scooby van?’ “ Avery, now 21, just graduated from mechanic school.

The family has probably painted the vans seven times, but they always kept with the Mystery Machine design - sometimes the cartoon version, other times the movie version, Frechette said.

They’ve had the current van for about seven years. It’s a fully self-contained camper van with a bathroom, kitchen and a furnace, Frechette said. “We’re on a quest to visit every state park in the state,” he said. He and his wife have traveled to 43 of the 73 state parks and recreation areas.

They had planned to do a lot of camping this summer, but Frechette said he thinks the van is probably going to be too damaged from the crash since it’s 20 years old. He hadn’t been able to see it as of Friday afternoon; he said the police have it impounded to collect evidence.

Since news broke about Frechette’s van, his friends have been calling and posting on Facebook, joking around and invoking Scooby-Doo references like “meddling kids” and “Zoinks!”

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Frechette said he doesn’t know how the van was stolen. He left it locked, as far as he remembers. It happened sometime after he went to sleep at 10 p.m. Thursday.

“I thought, who would steal that? It’s so high-profile, it would be caught in, like, 5 minutes,” Frechette said.

Police responded to a 911 call about 3 a.m. Friday about a van that had crashed into a home in the 1000 block of East Fourth Street in Dayton’s Bluff, said Sgt. Mike Ernster, St. Paul police spokesman.

The van crashed through a chain-link fence before striking the home’s wooden stairs.

The 911 caller had seen two males running away; a police dog searching for the suspects found two males in a garage not a block away. Police identified them but could not immediately determine whether they had been involved, so there were no arrests, Ernster said.

So, the mystery continues. Police have split up to look for clues.

Related Topics: POLICECRIME
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