car thefts

DC Woman Uses Tracking Device to Track Down Stolen Car

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An Adams Morgan woman had just bought her car six weeks earlier when, she says, someone stole it off the street this past weekend and she managed to track it down herself.

On Saturday night, Lauren Saldo, a hairstylist who drives to her clients’ houses, realized her car was gone.

"It was definitely a moment of panic," she said. "I need my car, so when it gets stolen, that’s a huge problem for me that gets in the way of my livelihood."

Saldo tried to report the car as stolen to D.C. police, but, she says, they kept asking if she’d loaned it to a friend and simply forgotten. They didn't record her car as stolen.

I just want people to be aware of what to do in case they’re in this situation as well. You really have to be your own advocate, which is unfortunate.

D.C. resident Lauren Saldo

Saldo's car has a tracking system called Uconnect. When she turned it on, she saw it was pinging a garage in Anacostia. She gave the location to police and says officers found a man passed out inside her car.

But, she says, since police had never marked her car as stolen, they didn’t arrest the man.

"It's extremely frustrating," Saldo said. "People are gonna keep stealing cars if they know they can get away with it."

We asked D.C. police for comment. They said they’re looking into the matter.

"I just want people to be aware of what to do in case they’re in this situation as well," Saldo said. "You really have to be your own advocate, which is unfortunate."

The car theft is part of a troubling trend in D.C. According to police statistics, more than 3,000 people have had their cars stolen in the city this year, up 11% from this time last year.

Some of those thefts include a D.C. firefighter’s car that was taken from a firehouse parking lot as he responded to emergencies; an Instacart driver's car that was taken twice in 24 hours, and last December, the car of D.C. Council member Mary Cheh. Her car was stolen by someone who jumped in as she stopped at a bakery.

"I mean, I’m just waiting for it to happen again, unfortunately, but let’s hope it won’t," Saldo said.

Saldo says she encourages people to put trackers in their cars and hopes others don’t have to go through what she did.

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