South Jordan, Utah - A Utah family getting ready to go to Hawaii didn’t expect such a surprise before they planned to head to the airport on Wednesday morning.
Ashly and Chas Johnson and their four kids had finished their last minute packing for a Hawaiian vacation and left the car running in their driveway while they all went back inside to say a prayer. It certainly wasn’t the smartest thing to do because, in the meantime, their white 2004 Toyota Sequoia was driven away.
“(We) turned the car on to start it for a couple minutes, and then we sat down as a family and had a little prayer, left to go get in the car, and the car was gone,” Ashly Johnson said. Ashly Johnson said she was in a state of "disbelief."
“You hear about it happening all the time," she said, "but then it happens to you, (and) you think, ‘Wow.’”
Salt Lake police detective Robert Ungricht said such vehicle thefts happen more than people think and most people don’t believe they’re going to be a victim of this kind of crime until it happens to them. He recommends that people not leave their keys in the car, and if they’re going to warm up their car, stay inside the vehicle.
The problem is, the detective added, that a lot of insurance companies will not cover theft of a motor vehicle if it finds that the owner left the vehicle warming up or left the keys in the vehicle and created a crime of opportunity. The Johnsons say their insurance company told them that in approximately 80 percent of such claims, the vehicles are recovered in 60 to 90 days because thieves usually abandon the vehicles they steal.
The Johnsons bought airline ticket insurance so their tickets are still good. The couple says that, after all, they were lucky. “We did have our car seats and the luggage we were planning on checking (inside the vehicle)," Ashly Johnson said, "however we had not put any of our carry-ons in yet, so we have all of our wallets and money and electronics.”
Photo Credits: Meagan Frank