INDIANAPOLIS (January 11, 2015) - When the temperatures dip like they are this week, police typically see an increase in the number of stolen car reports.
Often, those reports describe vehicles being stolen after being left running, unlocked and unattended.
Matthew Hall never thought it would happen to him, especially in a busy place like the Speedway gas station located at the corner of Smith Valley Road and State Road 37 in Johnson County.
“I’ve been going there for seven years and I’ve always kept my truck running just to keep it warm,” Hall said.
But around 7 a.m. Saturday, as Hall was on his way to work in Indianapolis, his morning routine opened the door to a crime. He left his unlocked Chevy Trailblazer at gas pump two.
“I went in and grabbed something to drink really quick, and looked up and there goes my car,” Hall recalled. “My heart went to the floor, it was a sick feeling. I mean, all my stuff was in there, my tools.”
Security video would later show a man getting out of the box truck and getting into Hall’s Chevy. A second man inside the Speedway convenience store asked Hall which way his Trailblazer went. Hall told the man it went northbound on State Road 37. The man then walked out to the box truck and drove off in the same direction. Hall believes the two men who arrived in the box truck were working together, and the second man was driving to meet up with the other man who had taken the Trailblazer.
The Johnson County Sheriff's Office released surveillance images Tuesday showing a man and woman who are wanted for questioning in connection with the theft. Police believe they were with the suspected thief before Hall's Trailblazer was taken:
“All my keys were in there so I had to go out and get all new locks for my house, so that kind of sucks too.,” Hall said. “My kids’ car seats, my tools, my lunchbox. Even my ice skates for my kids’ hockey.”
Hall is hoping somebody will spot the vehicle and alert police. The white, 2007 Chevy Trailblazer has a distinctive emblem of a deer buck in the left rear windshield.
The next morning, around 10:30, a similar theft happened at the BP station at 52nd Street and Keystone Avenue in Indianapolis.
“I left my car running, it was cold,” said David Gaines. “And I came back out and my car was gone.”
Gaines actually watched as somebody drove his 2006 burgundy Chevy Monte Carlo off the gas station lot and onto Keystone Avenue.
“I was very angry, upset,” Gaines said. “But nothing you can do except call the police I guess.”
Gaines said he did not have many belongings in his car when it was stolen. But the theft leaves him in a tight spot. The young father, who was watching his young daughter when we visited his home Monday, already works two jobs. He says he was getting ready to start a new job this week, but the loss of his car will make getting to and from work very difficult.
“I have bills and all that, so it’s kind of hard,” Gaines said. “It’s really hard, somebody taking your stuff that you worked hard for.”
Both men said they hope others will learn from their mistake of leaving their running cars unlocked.
Most automakers say modern vehicles don’t need to be warmed up before driving them. Police warn against leaving running cars, even for a quick trip to the store. Even with doors locked, running cars can be easily stolen if the key is left in the ignition. A determined thief can smash a window and drive off in seconds.
Keyless, remote ignition devices are a safer option, as they can allow you to run your car with the doors locked and no key in the ignition.