Montgomery Co. man recovers his own stolen car in Washington

A man in Montgomery County, Md., Recovered his own stolen vehicle last Thursday after it was stolen early in the morning. He said he used a car app to track his wife’s 2019 Volvo to southeastern DC

A man in Montgomery County, Md., Recovered his own stolen vehicle last Thursday after it was pulled from the driveway of his home in the wee hours of the morning. He said he used a car app to track his wife’s 2019 Volvo to southeastern DC

Shane Neff, a resident of Darnestown, said when he got out Thursday morning to pick up the car from the store for a scheduled appointment to get new tires. The car was gone.

“It’s a weird feeling when you wake up and it’s not there,” Neff said. “It’s confusing.”

He said he asked his wife if it had been dropped off at the house the day before or if she had parked the car elsewhere. When she said no, he knew it had to be stolen. The couple thought the car was locked, but they weren’t sure.

Neff called his neighbor, a Montgomery County Police Detective, and also filed a formal complaint online.

The detective on leave asked Neff if his car had a tracking app. To Neff’s surprise, it does, and he was able to follow the car through the streets of DC.

Neff, a former federal probation officer, said he was concerned his car would be destroyed in the time it would take for Montgomery County Police to fund an appeal because the auto theft unit of the department had been dissolved earlier this year, due to funding.

“The auto theft unit was disbanded six months ago,” Neff said. “Before, they had six officers and a sergeant. Now the police don’t have the manpower to pick up the cars when people report them as stolen.

Neff said he found his car on Southeast 30th Street near Minnesota Avenue.

The front license plate was missing. He also saw footprints in the backseat and the passengers in the car, so he assumed at least three people had stolen his car the night before.

“We tried to make sure no one was standing around the car – since there wasn’t one, I just jumped in, started it and drove off,” Neff said. “I did this for a living. I’ve been to unfamiliar neighborhoods before.

There wasn’t a lot of damage to the car, Neff said, just a scratch on the side. “Not so bad.”

When asked what the car smelled like, Neff said it was different.

“It didn’t have the familiar scent of my wife’s car, but it didn’t smell of grass.

The other observation was that Neff found the car unlocked.

“The criminals left it unlocked. What is wrong with them?

Back home, he contacted his neighbor across the street to warn him of the theft the day before.

Her neighbor said her house was hit as well, but luckily everything was counted. His neighbor also said he had a security camera with footage of the theft.

In the footage, Neff could see people in the dark of the night, using flashlights and gloves to check the car doors in his driveway. Then they crossed the street to his neighbor’s driveway.

Neff said his neighbors had a beagle that barks all the time, but in this case the dog didn’t make a sound.

“I’m not sure if the word is spread in some of the other jurisdictions it’s easier to steal a car in this county,” Neff said.

These types of calls, he said, were now to be traced back to lower level crimes. Neff said his detective neighbor said there have already been 500 car thefts in Montgomery this year.

Montgomery County Police did not respond to a request for comment by posting this story.

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