I never park in our driveway. So needless to say I was a little violated and overly freaked out by the fact that my car was stolen from my driveway the first and only time I parked in it since we moved here last fall.
2:45 p.m: A friend came over for lunch and left my house at 2:45. I walked her out to her car, stopping at my car first to get something out of my backseat for her. My keyless entry remote has been broken for a good few months so I have had to manually unlock my doors with the key. So I unlocked my car (key in door) grabbed my friend’s things and then we chatted for a few minutes. She then left and I walked back inside my house (keys still in car door).
3:30 p.m.: Niels came home from school and asked me where my car was once he came in the house and saw that I was at my desk (which by the way has a window in front of it that overlooks my driveway!!). I replied with sassiness as I stood up to look out the window, “It’s in the driveway sil . . .ly. Oh my gosh! My car was stolen!” I ran down to my purse only to realize my keys weren’t in it and it suddenly donned on me what I had done. It hadn’t even been an hour window since I had come inside! I immediately called the police and filed a report. Two officers came over to take down some more info and assured me this happens frequently and that it was probably some punk kids on a joy ride since school had just got out. They said it would likely surface in a nearby parking lot soon since I called it in so fast.
4:00: I bought my car from a good friend 3 years ago and she went all out and dropped some pretty cash on a fancy Lo-Jack system on the car. If you are unfamiliar with Lo-Jack, basically it is a wireless tracking device system that is undetectable to the eye. A random number of sensors are installed in a bunch of miscellaneous places in your vehicle so that no two cars are alike. Thus, making it virtually impossible for a crook to uninstall or deactivate – that is if they even know your car has it. So I called Lo-Jack to tell them my dilemma and they proceeded to tell me that b/c I was the secondary owner of the car, they could not guarantee to find my car in 24 hrs. They said they would guarantee it within a week. So at that point I knew I would get it back, now I just had to think about what kind of condition it would be in when they found it in a ditch with the windows bashed in and the tires slashed.
4:15: My shock buzz began to settle (let’s be honest no it didn’t), and I suddenly got all nervous that “they “ had my keys and my garage door opener. I told Niels that we needed to have a locksmith over stat, and then I locked up our garage door system. He told me I was overreacting, and usually he is right with that, but this time I wasn’t having it. Just then that same friend that was over earlier for lunch called and said that her husband had some locks he could come put on right away. That brought my stress level down another notch.
At that point I had done everything I could do within my control. So I just sat down and tried to absorb what had just happened. A plethora of thoughts surfaced:
- Who was on my street at that time? It is not a through street and there is very little foot traffic if any besides the mail/trash men. Very quiet.
- We live at the end of the street . Who was walking all the way down here?
- How did someone see my keys in a car door within 45 minutes of leaving them there? Call me crazy but I don’t think that would necessarily be an eye sore to the average passerby. (Heebie jeebies started kicking in)
- I was inside my house when this all went down. What if they would have come in? What if I would have seen them taking it from my desk window? Would I have yelled at them?
6:00 - 8:00:I needed to get away from the situation so we decided to go catch some dinner. Shortly after we were done I got a call from the Police informing me they had found my vehicle and asked me if I wanted to come get it. They asked how long it was going to take me to get there so I was under the impression they had found it abandoned and they were waiting on me to hurry there so they could leave and take care of another one of the dozens of cars that were probably stolen that day.
Boy was I wrong.
8:30 - 12 am: We arrived to a parking lot of 3 cop cars, 3 under cover cars, and 2 bicycle cops. Now this might be your average car theft scene in a small town like Provo. But like I mentioned before, there are about 1,200 cars stolen each month in Vegas so I knew something was up when I saw all the cars.
The officer greeted us and told us it would be another 40 minutes before the CSI van came to do DNA testing. At that point I looked behind me to see 4 people cuffed on the curb. We got back in Niels’ car and tried to get a peek at my car. At first glance from about 50 ft away, it didn’t look like there was any exterior damage. CSI showed up and did their thing and started taking tons of pictures of my car form every angle you could imagine. I started to get pretty nervous at that point and thought maybe someone had died in my car or something. I couldn’t understand why all the pictures!
The officers came back over after an hour or so and said they found which one did it but that my keys were not on him. Btw, they were undercover cops dressed as tacky tourists and they were awesome. So they ordered a search warrant so they could look inside his motel room for the keys. That cost another 45 minutes. Meanwhile they took all 4 of them off to jail, and then I asked if I could take a look at my car finally.
No damage. In fact ironically enough, everything of monetary value was still in the car. And then, I opened my glove box to find it completely empty. My stomach just sank as I tried to recall what info was in there.
Meanwhile, the cops finally got the warrant to go inside only to find a stolen motorcycle, crystal meth makings, and boxes and boxes of people’s stolen bank statements, personal data, ids, credit cards.The place was an absolute mess. This was a group of identity thieves. They didn’t want my car. They just wanted to be me.
Luckily they had only brought my stuff inside the motel and they did not have time to do anything with it between their meth party and when the cops followed my Lo-Jack to find the car/them. Realistically, the only two concerning things I was missing were my registration and my insurance card, but who knows what kind of tricks they could have pulled off.
We hung around the motel for about another hour as they weeded through all the nastiness to find all my crumpled paperwork and anything else that might have been mine. They finally released us and after 4 hours at a crime scene we were ready to go home.
Sure, it sucks this all happened. However, I feel very fortunate about my outcome: car was found, it was in one piece, keys back, and paperwork back. But I am mostly happy and at peace (kinda) that my stolen car lead the police to find a guy who had been stealing identities of many people all over the country.
I still get nervous if I think too hard about why on earth that man was in front of my house at that very time window, but for now I just have to be grateful for the positive things of this all.
My brother consoled me best:
"You can’t allow yourself to keep beating yourself up with “What if’s.” Such hypotheticals are irrational and they spark unfounded fears. You should be happy you got your car back in one piece and nobody was injured. The thief probably didn’t go into your house because thieves are cowards, unknowing as to whether you were a big guy or you had a dog or you had a gun. This is definitely not Provo and we’re in the midst of a bad economy…these things should almost be expects. Criminals like him are lazy and they contribute nothing to our society. They try to take the easy way out and target hard-working people like you."