NORFOLK, Va. - Surveillance video shows a BJ’s car mechanic checking the tires of a white Toyota Avalon. Moments later, an SUV pulls into the lot of the car shop on E. Virginia Beach Boulevard in Norfolk.
You can see a man getting out, casually walking up to the Avalon. Then, he hops in the driver’s seat and takes off. The other suspect in the SUV quickly drives away.
“As soon as I gave him my keys, five minutes later he comes back in, very calmly, and telling me that someone just drove off in my car, and I thought for sure he was kidding,” said Morgan. “I jumped up and ran outside, and my car was nowhere to be seen.”
Norfolk Police released the surveillance video from BJ’s on Tuesday. They said it was at least a two-person job and are still looking for the suspects.
The footage clearly shows Morgan’s car door was left wide open. The mechanic told her the keys were on the seat.
News 3 spoke with Brandon Zeigler, an attorney with Parks Zeigler Attorneys at Law, and asked him if BJ’s tire and service shop should be held responsible for the theft.
“The allegation is the keys were left on the seat,” Zeigler said. “If that’s the case and the car was left unlocked and the keys were left on the seat with a car not in secured facility but available for anybody who walked by, I would argue the auto shop did not conduct itself reasonably to protect their customer’s property, and they are going to be responsible for the value of the vehicle.”
Morgan ended up getting her car back.
Hours after our story aired, a News 3 viewer spotted the car sitting in a Portsmouth parking lot. Since the car wasn’t damaged, Zeigler said BJ’s is off the hook and Morgan got a lucky break.
“If the car comes back in the same or similar condition, count yourself lucky,” he said. “Most of them are going to end up in a chop shop and be gone forever.”
If your car is stolen, the first thing you should do is call police and file a report. Then, get in touch with your insurance and let them know.
If there is reason to believe the auto body shop was at fault, you can make a claim against them for the value of the vehicle.
If you do get your car back, Zeigler advises you to take it to a mechanic you trust to get checked out before you drive it.
“I would immediately get it to a garage that you trust to have it check out to make sure mechanically it’s the same; that the brake lines weren’t tampered with, or something wasn’t damaged that you don’t see that a mechanic would,” Zeigler said.
News 3 reached out to BJ’s. The spokesperson said they couldn’t comment because of the ongoing investigation.
Anyone who recognizes the man or the SUV in the images is encouraged to call the Norfolk Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP (1-888-562-5887).