By Sophie Pappas
It was a normal winter morning when Karen Abernathy, a resident of the Cobblestone Lakes neighborhood, opened her garage door, started the engine of her Black Mountaineer SUV and stepped back inside her sunroom to wait for her car to “warm up”—a common practice among Mid-Westerners who let the heaters get into full blast before driving off to work.
But after Abernathy kissed her husband Kent goodbye and walked out into the garage only moments later, she found her car was gone. It had been stolen.
“It happened in under five minutes,” she said.
At 6:10 a.m., Feb. 16, Abernathy called Zionsville Police Department to report the stolen vehicle.
Police were shocked to hear of such a blatant theft, in Zionsville no less- a distinctively safe area for families and car-owners.
Detective Charles White of the ZPD said that a stolen car was found not far from Cobblestone Lakes. It is believed that a large, heavy-set male on foot left the stolen vehicle and found Abernathy’s SUV to drive instead.
“You can see the footprints in the snow,” Abernathy said. “He was just very opportunistic.”
“These incidents happen every year during the winter, but not necessarily in Zionsville,” White said.
Detective White said the best way to avoid this situation is for car-owners to have two sets of car keys on hand at all times—one set to leave in the ignition and one set to lock the doors.
“Fortunately, it could have been much worse,” Abernathy said. “I still feel extremely violated.”
She said her husband has since changed all the locks to their house and to their garage, since the thief who stole her car keys also ran off with her work and house keys.
White said his department registered the vehicle in a national theft database. If the vehicle is found, investigators will search for any evidence that may lead them to the car thief. Until then, Abernathy’s insurance company will pay for a rental car.
“We will work with what we’ve got,” White said.