Acquaintance Steals Toyota 4-Runner; Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Recover Vehicle 5 Minutes After Theft Report

  • February 15, 2012
  • recovery stories

On the night of January 13, 2012, the owner of a 1998 Toyota 4-Runner picked up an acquaintance in his vehicle. He stopped at a local convenience store to pick up a beer, leaving the acquaintance in the car while he went inside to make the purchase. When he exited the store, he saw his acquaintance driving the 4-Runner away from the store. Because the owner wanted to make every attempt to locate the vehicle before filing a public report, he did not report the theft to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) until five hours after the crime.

Once the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police completed the stolen vehicle theft report, they had the information about the 4-Runner entered into the state and federal crime computers. This routine police action automatically activated the LoJack transponder concealed in the Toyota and initiated the tracking of the vehicle.

Five minutes later, a CMPD officer on routine patrol duties in the northeastern sector of Charlotte received the LoJack homing signal on the LoJack Police Tracking Computer installed in the department’s patrol vehicle. Following the computer’s directional cues, the officer tracked the stolen 4-Runner to a hotel parking lot off University Executive Park Drive.  The vehicle was unoccupied and there wasn’t any activity around the vehicle.  Officers made an attempt to locate the suspect in the hotel; however, the suspect’s name and her alias name — provided by the victim — were not on the guest list.  The hotel clerk could not recognize the suspect’s photo. 

Officers recovered the vehicle and towed it for safekeeping until the victim could take custody. The investigation remains ongoing to locate the suspect, who was previously reported in the NCIC police computer as a missing person.

The LoJack Vehicle Recovery System was installed in the Toyota 4-Runner at a former owner’s request in June 2001.