Bronx precinct police were stunned when a man decided to “borrow” a police squad car from right in front of the 50th Precinct stationhouse yesterday morning. The keys had been left in the ignition, an irresistible invitation to take the vehicle for a quick ride around the neighborhood. Unfortunately for the carjacker, his joy ride didn’t go exactly as expected.
At 6:20am on Sunday, the unidentified man jumped in the driver’s seat of the patrol car, which was parked outside of the police precinct on Kingsbridge Ave. He then drove it for about two miles on a 15 minute ride that ended in Norwood, when he crashed into four parked vehicles on the corner of Fordham Road and Sedgwick Avenue. The cars were totaled in the crash, but luckily they were empty and no one was harmed. Witnesses told CBS that the driver got out of the cruiser and walked around the corner “like nothing happened.” He fled the area in a black Lincoln Town Car livery cab, and is still on the run. New York Daily News reports that the man was wearing a grey hoodie and a black jacket, and may be Hispanic.
Vivien Lopez, who owned a red SUV that was smashed in the incident, wondered just how a patrol car could get stolen from a police parking lot outside a busy station. As she pointed out to CBS, if a car can be taken from there, it can be stolen from anywhere. It certainly does not inspire confidence in the police that one of their own was careless enough to leave their keys in the vehicle. Especially because this isn’t the first time petty criminals have taken the liberty of driving around a police car uninvited.
Just last month, officers in Terre Haute, Indiana left a handcuffed robbery suspect unattended in their patrol car, with the keys still in the ignition. The Tribune Star reported that the seasoned thief managed to break through the metal screen, climb into the front seat, and speed off in the cruiser. That incident ended with the suspect slamming into several squad cars as he attempted to Red Rover his way through a police blockade- while still wearing handcuffs. Meanwhile, Newsday reports that in August, another man who was arrested on marijuana charges in Long Island escaped custody by stealing an unmarked police car, before dropping it and running away on foot.
A clear pattern seems to be emerging here. While somewhat shocking to the public, this particular brand of carjacking is apparently totally commonplace. Some criminals are terrible at their jobs, and others are absolutely wily- but it’s probably safe to assume that none of them should be left unattended in a police cruiser with the keys in the ignition. As the NYPD continues to track down yesterday’s mystery carjacker, we are left wondering whether this will happen again. Let’s hope that the police have got the memo now.
The NYPD is asking that anyone with information about the incident on Sunday call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.