I had one of those stranger-than-fiction days today.

This morning, as I walked out of my house, keys in hand, my car was not in its usual spot in the driveway. And it wasn’t in the garage, either.

Apparently, some fly-by-night wrecker must’ve shown up some time in the early morning hours and furtively towed my car away. And no, before anyone asks, it wasn’t repossessed. It was stolen. No signs of forced entry or a break-in. No broken glass. No tire marks.

It was taken, without my knowledge or permission, from my driveway and is now, more than likely, disassembled into a million pieces somewhere in Texas or in some out-of-the-way chop shop here in Louisiana.

My neighborhood is relatively safe, and the police tell me that Alexandria isn’t exactly a hotbed of car-nappers. One or two reports a month, and many of those end up being false reports– people whose cars have been repossessed or people who bartered their vehicle for drugs.

Whoever took my car must run a fairly sophisticated operation. I had a Mercedes SUV, which means they’d probably have to own a flatbed tow truck to move it, and considering this, it seems extremely unlikely this was anyone local. (I can account for both of my keys).

Much of my day was spent trying to figure out an alternate means of transportation. Because of my disability, I have to drive with hand controls (I didn’t realize there was a black market for hand controls), so finding a replacement is not the easiest thing in the world. Thankfully, I have an exceptional insurance agent, and he was able to find a rental for me up in Shreveport, which is covered by my policy.

A few lessons learned:

1. If you own a Mercedes and you think the little SOS feature will protect you against auto theft, make sure you have the system activated. Although GM’s OnStar feature will allow remote activation, apparently the same is not the case for Mercedes (which is really pathetic).  Since I bought my car used, the system had been de-activated by the dealer.

2. Be suspicious of tow-trucks driving around in the middle of the night, especially if they’re towing a perfectly fine-looking vehicle.

3. Make sure your car doors are all locked. I honestly thought my car doors were locked, but apparently, at least one of them was somehow unlocked, which allowed someone to quietly put the car in neutral and back it out of the driveway.

4. If you can, park as far away from the street as possible.

So, anyway, if any of you know shady chop shop people, tell them to be on the look-out for an SUV with hand controls.

Oh and if, like me, you suddenly find yourself in the market for a new vehicle: BUY LOCAL.

8 thoughts

  1. Lamar….that really sucks. I suspect those Benz SUVs are fairly popular on the chop market. I had a similar experience while attending LSU. I lived in Gardere aka the “hood”. I came out of my apartment one morning and found my car sitting up on peices of firewood with no rims or tires. I learned an important lesson…if your rims are worth more then your car…make sure you have locks on them. I feel your pain dude. Good Luck.

  2. Thanks Darren. Yes, it DOES suck.

    One of the cops I spoke with said that these guys carry lists of the cars they need to pick up and then scour around neighborhoods late at night until they find what they’re looking for.

    Just crazy and random and infuriating.

  3. Damn Lamar that sucks man!

    No further comment other than that…sheesh!

    Once when I moved to Mexico I outfitted my Jeep with all sorts of anti=theft stuff only to never have anyone look twice at my car while living there. I moved back to New Orleans and had it broken into 7 times, the top cut open twice, the gas tank emptied twice, and someone attempted to break the gearshift and transmission surround at least once trying to tow it away like yours.

    Yay.

  4. Drew, I spent two years living in a working-class, majority Hispanic neighborhood in Houston that some people sneeringly referred to as “Little Mexico.” A few of my friends from back home acted like they were afraid of their car being stolen whenever they visited me.

    They didn’t understand, for example, that the reason there were so many shopping carts parked on the curbs was because the neighborhood Fiesta grocery store had curbside pick-up for people who wanted to walk their groceries back to their homes. So there was a perception that the neighborhood was somehow scary or prone to crime.

    In actuality, crime happens everywhere and in every neighborhood.

    I never had a single problem when I lived in that neighborhood in Houston. I was in college at the time, living with roommates, and the doors were often unlocked. And despite the perception that the area was not safe, no one ever messed with us or with any of our neighbors.

    Today, I live on a quiet street in a nice, older neighborhood. At any given time during the daylight hours, someone is walking their dog or jogging.

    I have to admit that for a moment I thought: Gee, I should move, even though I live in a good neighborhood.

    But crime happens everywhere, and it’s random.

    I heard today about a rash of home burglaries in a very suburban speed trap right outside of town, and I recalled that, when I was in high school and living with my folks in Tennyson Oaks, someone tried to steal my dad’s car (and only ended up stealing his cell phone, which was later used to trace the thief’s location).

    By the way, Drew, sucks about your Jeep. You have the best personalized plates in the State of Louisiana. At least for a Tulane fan.

  5. This speaks to the benefits of driving a hoopty. I never worried about anyone stealing my 1993 Jeep w/200K miles that smelled of Jake the yellow lab. Of course, my family refused to ride in it too, so it wasn’t all good…or was it?

    Bad luck. Go see Kent at Walker.

  6. Yea. That sucks. Totally random, and there is nothing you can do about it. Just be sure to park your next car under your garage, though I am sure you have already made that decision.

    But your reference to crime happening anywhere is very true. A while back, my car was broken into (as well as my parents’ and neighbors’) and we lived in Charles Part Ext. Also, when I used to deliver pizza, I was robbed at gunpoint in Cherokee Village.

    You can’t ever see any of these things coming, so you can’t really prepare. You can just learn from these experiences and try to do things a little different from then.

  7. Next time park Daniel’s car behind yours….if anything you’ll make them earn their theft by having to move all 14 thousand pounds of his car to get to yours!

  8. Lamar
    Do as I had to do. Set up a security camera system around your house that records all movement 48 hours a day. Something happens, you just down load the time period and hand it to the police. There are down sides to this, but it’s worth it. I also placed sign’s at random points advising that you are on candid camera so to speak.
    But I can tell you many years ago I had a Porche parked in a car port with another car behind it. They actually tried to pick up the car and carry it sideways, but gave up.
    Alex

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