Warming up the car attracts thieves

Suspects strike twice in Havre de Grace

HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. - It was during the morning rush at the EZ Quick Food Market in Havre de Grace that Owner Bijal Patel spotted a couple loitering inside the store and suspected they were up to no good.

"The way they're looking, it looks like they're going to rob me, but I already had the customer inside playing Keno and stuff so they couldn't do it," said Patel.
Patel asked the couple to leave, but they were still hanging around outside when a customer pulled into the lot, got out of his truck and left it running while he ran in to get a cup of coffee.
Surveillance cameras captured images of the couple as they walked towards the vehicle, a male suspect snuck a quick peak inside the store to make sure the driver was occupied and then they drove away in his very hot, stolen Dodge Ram.

"In Maryland, you can't leave your vehicle unattended and walk away from it, and this is the severe consequence of that---someone takes your car and leaves," said Cpl. Dan Petz of the Havre de Grace Police Department. 
Police say 21-year-old Billy McArthur and 19-year-old Gloria Bell drove a few blocks away, switched the license plate on the truck and then decided to jump into another vehicle that was left warming up unattended outside a home---stealing their second vehicle in a matter of 30 minutes.
While officers tracked them down and arrested both, recovering the stolen vehicles, it tied up virtually every officer on duty.

"We were lucky nothing else happened at the same time," said Petz.
Back at the EZ Quick, one of the victims found out just how easy and quick thieves can strike when you leave your vehicle unlocked with the engine running.

"He's always joking around so when he said, 'Oh, B.J., somebody stole my car!' I said, 'You start to walk now.  You've got to go to work',” said Patel, “and he said, 'No. I'm serious.  It's stolen,' and it was a surprise for me."

In Maryland, you can be cited for leaving a running car unattended and it can cost you a point off your license and a $70 fine.
If it slips out of gear and causes an accident, the penalty is three points and a $110 fine.


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