The morning after Christmas, Metro Scene reported the case of a late-model car with Maryland tages that had spent nearly two weeks by a long-expired meter on 15th Street NW and had sprouted a rash of tickets.

The car was towed away on the morning the column appeared. We checked the auto theft unit yesterday to see what had happened to the car, and the story is hilarious -- sort of.

According to our source, who didn't want his name mentioned, the car had been reported stolen by its owner. But it really wasn't stolen. She had parked it, departed and, having forgotten where she had parked and giving up in frustration in looking for it, reported a theft. On three subsequent occasions, parking attendants of the D.C. Public Works Department hung parking tickets on the windshield -- but none ever thought to check on the likelihood that this good, well-maintained car might have been stolen.

When Metro Scene called yesterday, the police computer identified the car, the theft report and the fact that car and owner had been reunited. "We say that one was recovered by The Washington Post," said the officer, adding that the case will go into the department's training program under the "how not to do it" label.