The location: The Car Theft house.

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. A residential home.

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. Ryan's neighborhood (Pelican Cove) in Newport Beach.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. In Season 3, at the end of Episode 24 ("The Man of the Year") and the start of Episode 25 ("The Graduates"), when Volchok forced Ryan to help him steal a car.

    In Episode 24, Ryan has beaten up Volchok (following an ugly incident at Marissa's prom), and has put him in the hospital. Volchok threatens to have Ryan arrested if he doesn't accompany him on some shady venture, and Ryan has little choice but to go along.

    In this scene, we see them parked on a residential street in Newport, looking at a house at the end of the road.

    Volchok says he is "going to pick something up",
    and is waiting for the owner to leave. Suddenly, a neighbor lady who knows Ryan shows up at his car window, surprising him. But she simply wanted to say hello.

    Later, after dark, we see the owner drive away, and Volchok insists that Ryan go with him to the house, since it's Ryan's neighborhood and he won't draw attention.

    They walk to the house, and Volchok has Ryan wait outside while he disappears around the back. Ryan watches the street nervously, as a police car cruises by.

    The garage door opens, and Ryan realizes that Volchok is planning to steal a car.  He refuses to go along with it, but it's too late.

    Volchok smashes the car window, an alarm goes off, and the cop car returns (lights flashing) as Volchok hurriedly tries to hotwire the car. Volchok gets it started, but Ryan refuses to get in. Volchok roars off in the car, with the police car in hot pursuit, as Ryan runs off. (He later phones Marissa and asks her to be his alibi, if the police come looking for him.)

    We see the same street again in the next episode. It's graduation day, and Ryan goes out to his car, only to have Volchok show up, saying that he needs help, that the cops got a good look at him, and that he needs money to get out of town.

    (This eventually leads to them going to a pawn shop to pawn Marissa's pearls to raise the money to get rid of Volchok. But it doesn't work. He turns up again, like a bad penny, at the end of this episode, resulting in Marissa's death.)

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A residential home - just nowhere near Newport.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. Far from the usual filming locations for the show.

    The house, where they steal the car, is at 640 Wildrose Canyon Court, in the northwest corner of Altadena, CA. (That is north of Pasadena and east of La Canada Flintridge.)

    The house is located at the west end of the cul-de-sac. When we first see Ryan & Volchok, they are parked on N. Sunset Ridge Road, at the east end of Wildrose Canyon Ct, looking west at the house.  When Ryan sees the police car go by, that car is heading north on N. Sunset Ridge Road. And when Volchok speeds off, he heads east on Wildrose Canyon, heading towards Sunset Ridge.

    (In real life, this is a gated community, and that gate is located just a few yards south of where they were parked on Sunset Ridge Road.)

    Here is a map link. And here is an aerial photo.

    [ WarningThis is a private home.  Do not trespass on their property, knock on their door,
    or do anything else that might disturb the residents!

    Below is a Google Panorama of the same view we had when Ryan & Volchok were parked in their car, looking towards the house.

    And here is a Google Panorama of the house itself, where Volchok stole the car.

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A. I had received a tip, years ago, that this scene had been shot in Sierra Madre, CA, a small community northeast of Pasadena. Since the house number (640) is clearly visible in the scene, and since Sierra Madre is a small town, I thought this would be a very easy house to find.  I was wrong.

    I spent ages searching Sierra Madre, looking at every 640 house in that town, without finding it.

    The reason, as it turns out, is that it actually wasn't shot at Sierra Madre at all.  It was shot in Altadena, about five miles west of Sierra Madre. While I had searched a mile or two in each direction from Sierra Madre, I hadn't ventured that far afield in my search. (I'm still not sure just why they traveled all the way to Altadena for a scene that, it seems, could have been shot in any upscale neighborhood.)

    Fortunately, in early 2010, a fan named Geoff was on a roll, and had just found two other missing OC locations: Kirsten's cheap motel and the upscale market. So, I told him the house was supposed to be in Sierra Madre and asked him if he wanted to try to track it down. Shortly thereafter, I was amazed to get an email from Geoff, saying he had found the house in Altadena. (Great going, Geoff!)

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