Media/Events

Vehicle Stolen While Warming Up in Fast Food Parking Lot


On February 6, 2017 By admin

Surveillance footage captures an auto theft while vehicle was warming up

MAPLEWOOD, MO – Exclusive surveillance video served as a vital tool in identifying criminals of a winter auto theft in Missouri during December 2016.

Marquita Wright, an employee of Jack in the Box, went outside right before her shift ended to start and warm up her Mercury Milan that was parked right outside the restaurant. That was the last time she saw her van undamaged.

“I turned the car on to let it heat up. I came back maybe fifteen minutes later, and it was gone,” she said.

The security video that was recording in the parking lot shows the suspects’ vehicle, a black Chrysler Town & Country, enter the Jack in the Box parking lot from Manchester Road. They had one purpose and it only took them a minute or two to accomplish their goal.

The culprit’s van strategically backed into a parking space right next to Wright’s vehicle at approximately 7 am. One man exited the passenger side of the van, immediately entered the unlocked car, and together the car and van promptly exit the parking lot and leave the surveillance perimeter of the security cameras.

This type of occurrence might not be as unpredictable and random as you might think. Maplewood Police Detective, David Brown, said that many drivers become a little to trusting during cold weather months and criminals have taken notice. They cruise around, deliberately searching for unattended vehicles that are left to warm up outside homes, restaurants, and gas stations.

“It’s not a particular person they’re targeting. It’s just an opportunity to find a vehicle that’s left running, with the keys inside,” Brown said.

Thanks to the license plate information delivered by the videos, the suspects’ van was reported stolen and located in Maplewood, Brown said. Wright’s stolen car was eventually found abandoned in north St. Louis. However, this van was not found in the condition one might have hoped. The criminals had set fire to all the seats and destroyed the interior of the car, so as to not leave any trace or evidence.

Maplewood Police are hoping surveillance video will help them with finding the men responsible for the auto theft.

“It’s sad, because it’s my transportation to get back and forth to work, and to get my children to where they need to go. For somebody to steal it, and I just got done paying for it,” Wright said.

As comfortable as it is to warm up your car prior to using it, it is advised that you never leave your car unattended. It may be a challenge to withstand freezing temperatures during these cold winter months, but it will be more of a challenge to locate and recover a stolen vehicle.

“If you’re going to have a car running, be outside and be in the car. Otherwise, maybe purchase a remote start system. That way people can’t drive away with it. It is [expensive] but it might be worth it. It’s cheaper than having to replace your vehicle,” he said.

CalAtlantic offers industry-leading video surveillance cameras that will protect your assets during situations like Wright’s. When dealing with auto theft, whether from a home, a dealership or any public location, video surveillance is relied upon heavily and significantly increases the chances of finding the criminals and recovering your assets.


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