PSA: Don’t Leave Your Running Car Unattended

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

On July 4th, early in the morning, we were loading up the car for an early morning photo shoot. A few photo shoots, actually. We live in Texas, so it gets HOT in the summer. Flaming hot, folks! It’s best to wake up with the sun and get started shortly after. For your efforts, though, you are rewarded with awesome light.

Our first one was special, since we planned to photograph our girls with their Grandma Carol. She’d just met her newest granddaughter the day before and we wanted to be sure to capture this special time. While I readied our girls, Don prepped the gear. He had it all together and decided to go ahead and load it up since I still had to do Mari’s hair. Usually, he loads the girls and then will load the gear, but that morning, well, we were running a little behind. Totally my fault since I was having a dance party in the room with Mari while we were getting ready. Tesla was dressed in her outfit. Mari was dressed in hers. I was dressed in mine. Don walked in and was searching for something. I wasn’t sure, and he remembered and walked off.

I resumed with Mari’s hair. I was in the middle of pulling her hair back in a half ponytail when Don walked in with a look that was part horror and part fury. “Where’s the car?”

Now when you hear those words, they don’t really register immediately. I stared at him baffled, like he’d just asked me to explain String Theory. Then he blurted out, “ThecarwasjuststolenIT’SGONE!!!!” “Call the cops!”

My heart sank. My mind raced to find a solution to the problem. We didn’t have a car. We were going to miss the photo session with my MIL, but our next session was in half an hour. We had one small car. We can maybe still make it after we file the police report. Where are the cameras? “Where are the cameras?” “They were in the car!!”

You see, at this time, I wasn’t aware that he’d been loading the car. Additionally, we had rented some fabulous lenses for the weekend that cost almost as much as one semester of college. Those lenses were with the cameras. &(*$#^

“Mommy, you said a bad word! You need to wash your mouth with soap!” said a tiny voice. I stood there shaking, feeling guilty. If I hadn’t taken so long. If I hadn’t complained about the car. If…if…if…and I stared at my girl. I’m glad I had taken so long. My girls are with me. My husband is ok. We are ok. I wiped the tears that were forming and I went into recovery mode.

I walked to the front of the house, down the street, and questioned the neighbor. He didn’t see anything and said a prayer for us. I remembered that we had OnStar and called them. Immediately, they were on the line and had activated their system to find our car. I was, surprisingly, calmer than I thought I would be. I was shaking, really shaking.

Don emerged and he too was in the same state of shock/fight or flight. He recounted d the the whole scenario. He was loading the car to make up some of the time. He started the car because it was already getting hot. He’d run inside to grab whatever he was looking for right before I was doing Mari’s hair. He heard the car speed off while he was inside, right as he located whatever it was he was looking for. Who was out that early in the morning? And he hadn’t seen anyone outside except the neighbor down the street working on the lawn. The hatch was open and that was it.

I sat down on the computer and sent out an S.O.S. to Facebook with the hopes that maybe our other neighbors or local friends might see something. I glanced over and there were the cameras!! Apparently, they’d taken a tumble out of the car. Hooray, our cameras had tried to escape. I snatched them up and was about to fully inspect them when the police knocked on our door.

We raced to the door, crowding the opening, staring at the police officer with wide eyes. “Are you ready?” We stared at him. “What?” “Are you ready to go get your car? We found it and caught the guy who took it.” I practically jumped on him and squeezed him tightly. Tears of joy running down my face! I was so, so happy and grateful!

Don loaded up to go claim our vehicle. We called our clients to let them know we’d be delayed. They were so understanding and for that, we were grateful! Meanwhile, I snapped a couple of pictures of my girls with their Grandma while we waited. You can see where Tesla was noshing on her shoulder. The light wasn’t as spectacular as I wanted it to be, but we made it work. We delayed our “real” shoot to another day, but I was happy that we were able to capture these two before we had to be on our way.



When Don returned, he told me that the man they caught was a homeless man from a town 60 miles away. The police officer had told him that when they heard of our car, they immediately noticed the car. The thief recognized that he’d been recognized, and threw the car in park and abandoned it. He took off on foot. The police caught up with him. He had taken Tesla’s bottle warmer, Don’s sunglasses, and what he thought was a gift card, but was just a reward card. My heart broke for the man. I would have gladly given him the bottle warmer. Apparently, the portable heating devices are quite valuable in the homeless population.

I was grateful for the police officers and thanked God for answered prayers! Thank you:

  • Sgt. Pat Clark
  • Sgt. Rick Gonzales
  • Officer Kevin Butler
  • Officer Todd Koons


chae said...

Hooray!! So glad there was a happy ending to this story.

chae said...

Glad there was a happy ending to this one!! The girls look unphased by the car theft event. Cool.

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