Sheriff's deputy swabbing steering wheel
On August 1, Dennis Caco's Midori green colored 1998 Honda Civic was stolen from the main street by his Mission Valley home.
"Before I went for a run, I went to check on the car, and it was gone."
Dennis Caco: "The Max Boost Civic .... was stolen. I am super bummed."
I spoke to Caco on August 10. He is the founder and artist of the Max Boost comic book where the main character, Max, drives a stock Midori green Civic that was given to him by his mom on his birthday. "It's a far cry from the sports car Max actually wanted, but luckily in the comic, he discovers a local tuner shop called Papa Wheely's Performance Pagoda, and they do some magic to his car to make it race-able."
According to Crimemapping.com, about six other vehicles were stolen within a three-mile radius from where "Midori" was stolen "with a screwdriver."
Cars in Max Boost comic
Caco filed a police report and the next day took to his comic book's Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube pages, and posted photos/memes of the stolen Honda. The August 2 Instagram post was captioned in part "The Max Boost Civic .... was stolen. I am super bummed, in particular, because this car was not a regular car: it was donated through money raised [15 days ago] by Max Boost fans for the purpose of building it into the official Max Boost car."
The local import and domestic tuner communities put aside their differences and shared the Max Boost posts to go viral.
"No [expletive] way," said one fan, ".... I donated to this and hopefully, it turns up. I'll donate to rebuild. If not, I'll get one and re-donate."
I remember Caco and his Max Boost comic book series from back in the day. His fans always had his back. The comic was originally featured in the now-defunct Import Tuner magazine from 1998 to 2006. The "import racer whoops muscle car" lead-up storylines garnered Max and its penciler Caco, lots of fans. They sent snail mail, which occasionally were printed in the letter section of the monthly magazine. Max Boost was to our generation, the equivalent of Speed Racer was for the boomers. Accelerate and brake into 2020, and Max is "dead on" catching traction within the generation Y and Z tuners.
A 2020 storyline post on the Max Boost website resembles Caco's recent misfortune. It reads in part "BUT, the world of MAX BOOST is in danger. Cars are starting to randomly disappear- and mysterious villains from a distant world are out to destroy MOTORVILLE."
Almost three days after Midori was stolen, Caco's real life plot "power shifts" into what he later describes as an "adrenaline rush the entire day."
"I woke up at seven in the morning, and saw something on my phone that said 'Take a look at your DMs [direct messages] on Facebook.' I look and was like 'Oh my God' — they sent me videos and photos of the [stolen] car. I was freaking out and I didn't know what to do. I had to take my son to school first, before I had to go see Midori. And the guy [who found the car was] like 'Hey I gotta go,' so he leaves the car and now I'm like no one's at the car."
Caco made his son's lunch, then the two jumped into the family's daily-driver en route to an undisclosed elementary school. Caco narrates the play by play into his phone that's mounted onto the dashboard of his vehicle. "So everybody from a particular Honda group has been trying to get a hold of me .... one of the guys sat there next to the car for over an hour, [took off], then went back and is waiting for me to get there, because the cops haven't even got there and it's been over two hours."
Caco, now sans co-pilot, speeds southbound, then eastbound on the 54 and exits on Jamacha Road by the Rally's and the former K-Mart where auto customizers rendezvous on a regular basis. He turns right on Sweetwater Road, then pulls into the Ramberto's and Jack in the Box shared parking lots.
"The guy who found it, [John M.], he's here waiting for me," Caco explains as he parks. A police vehicle then pulls up into the frame, and the officer asks: "Do you have the keys for it?" Caco nods his head, "Yeah, I got the key."
The stolen car was parked in the handicapped parking spot of the Ramberto's restaurant, adjacent to the new Yoshinoya restaurant.
"This Midori is making memories in the making," commented a fan watching online, "for sure this adds to a great story telling."
"Some people thought I made this up, [like] a publicity stunt," Caco said. "Nope, [I] ain't messing around, I did the full-on police report."
By now, the sheriff deputy is depicted on Caco's video.
"Before I let you go inside," says the deputy, "I have to take some DNA swabs off the steering wheel."
"You'll probably find COVID," Caco jokingly says, "this car was kinda junky, man."
The deputy doesn't respond.
"I don't know if you're cool being on camera," Caco asks John, the tuner who initially spotted the vehicle. "Yeah, it's OK," he replies, ".....I called them around 6, [left and came back], and I've been here since 7:30."
".... You're still here waiting, what an awesome dude," Caco says.
"It's because I owned a Honda and the shit got stolen over in San Bernardino, that's why I feel it," John continues.
Hours before, John saw the shared post of the stolen Midori on the #YOHBROSSS Facebook or Instagram page. YOHBROSSS is a social media brand and the local car scene’s digital hub which in December helped recover stolen wheels from a Nissan 240SX that was left hovering atop cement blocks, also in Spring Valley.
As of press time, Caco hasn't received new information on the perp(s) that stole Midori.
"You never know the difference one share would make, how crazy is it that that lead to [Midori] being found — thank you."
In 2006 Caco retired his Max Boost creation to concentrate on a new family and other ventures. More recently, he and his partners raised over $2 million on Kickstarter campaigns; his 2019 relaunch of Max Boost, Volume 1 "raised over $50,000 in crowdfunding, and we shipped over 3000 books and accessories, and all backer orders were fulfilled. We have sold over $110,000 in book and product sales for Max Boost in less than a year. Anything left over is used to continue to fund the growth of the comic book, with a goal to produce animation and toys." Caco just signed a licensing partnership with Honda.
John, the tuner who found Midori, received an undisclosed amount via Venmo from the Max Boost fans.