One day in about 1996… my husband, Ron, took our brand-new Jeep Grand Cherokee in to get the protective coating put on the outside (external coatings were not standard in those days). They said it would be about 1/2 hour, a quick in and out.
About an hour later he asked the front desk if they could find out how much longer it would be. They simply said it wasn’t ready but that they were expecting it soon. Ron paced and called me to chat, he was bored…
Another half hour later, he spotted the manager coming toward him with a red face and not looking happy! He uttered quietly… “Sir, I’m sorry but your Jeep has been stolen from our lot.”
Here’s what happened: The serviceman had pulled the Jeep up to the stall where they do the coating (like an outside car wash with stalls) and when the service person got out, the thief, Preston, got in and drove out the other end and away!! How easy was that!?
Mind you, this was a couple of weeks before Christmas, we had plans to travel and evidentially, so did the thief! They did give us a brand-new loaner, any Jeep we wanted, of course, and they immediately ordered a new one identical to ours.
The day before the new Jeep was to be delivered, we got a phone call from a police officer at around 2am, yep… in the middle of the night, the morning of Christmas Eve! He said, “We’ve found your Jeep and it’s drivable!” What does that even mean anyway, we thought! He asked if we could come and get it. Well… “YES, I guess we can come and get it, where is it?” Seemed odd to us that the police officers would call us directly and not just take the Jeep and the thief to the police station.
They gave us directions and instructions that led to a parking lot behind a huge grocery store quite far from our home. It was dark back there. We spotted a police car about 25 feet ahead and then we saw our Jeep. The officers had the driver’s side door open. There was a young man in the driver’s seat, about 30 years old, drunk as a skunk, sleeping… in our Jeep! We could smell him from several feet away!
The policemen kept trying to wake him up and when he opened his eyes they introduced him to us, telling him to apologize! What? All we wanted to do was punch him out and leave. And, all he wanted was to sleep off his drunken stupor!
We could only imagine where Preston and his checkered past had taken our new Jeep—and what dastardly deeds he may have implemented! Perhaps a getaway car, smuggling who knows what across the Arizona border, or maybe just a nice car for cruising chicks! We found 1000 additional miles and a case of beer in the back… well, just the box, he must have sat behind the store and drank it all!
Preston went to jail. The Jeep dealership did a complete detailing on the vehicle (although Preston had taken quite good care, it seemed, of our vehicle, washing it and all).
They also allowed him to plea bargain out of the charges as he had other, more serious charges pending against him! Goodness! If I remember correctly… I may not have used much Biblical language when chatting with the police chief about the case a month or so later—oops!
We were livid back then for several reasons—but here and now, the event just makes a great story!