Lots of cars look alike these days. Lots of them don’t even need keys to start. And lots of us have lots of things on our minds.
That can be a dangerous combination, as Evan Stein learned this weekend.
Here’s his car theft story — with a part-O. Henry, part-Westport twist.
I went to the beach on Saturday. Put on sunblock, had a nap and listened to podcasts. My wife Jenny went for a walk.
At 2:45 my alarm went off. I packed up our stuff and put it in the back seat of my parents’ car, which I borrowed because I don’t have a beach sticker this year.
When the stuff was in the car, Jen got back from her walk. We did a lap around the marina, and walked back to our car.
We headed across town to my parents’ house, about 10 minutes away. As we pulled into the driveway, I reached up to open the garage door buttons.
The buttons weren’t there.
I puzzled over this for a moment, then said to Jen, “I think this might not be our car.”
She said, “Of course it isn’t. We borrowed your parents’ car.”
I said, “No. I mean, I don’t think this is their car!”
I had driven to the beach in a Toyota SUV. I now drove an Infiniti SUV.
It was the same color. Same basic shape. But there had been clues. There were more cameras as we backed out of the space at the beach. There was a map on the screen as we drove home. There were 2 beach stickers. My father does not leave extra stickers on the windshield.
And as we looked around, we saw children’s seats in the back. Thank G-D there were no sleeping kids!
Then there was a purse by Jen’s feet. It was not her purse.
Presumably, there was a key fob in the purse. How else could the car have started?
I pulled into the driveway. I told my parents we were home. But I said we had to go back to the beach. We had taken someone else’s car.
My dad followed us to Compo. When we arrived, the couple whose car we had taken were talking to the Westport Police.
I pulled into a spot by the showers. I got out and apologized for taking the car.
The officer took my name and phone number. He seemed more focused on reminding the couple to not leave their keys in the car.
My father and I walked back to his car. I drove us home.
“Grand Theft Auto” challenge unlocked. Fortunately, without an arrest.
The morals of the story: Don’t leave your key fob in your car. And pay attention!