A bizarre car theft has left a Brampton, Ont., woman angry with Peel Regional Police, after she found her stolen vehicle but then waited hours for help from law enforcement.
So long, in fact, that the car went missing a second time.
At 4 a.m. on Sunday, Monika Gaddu awoke to find her 2012 Acura TL stolen from her driveway.
“I freaked out,” she said. “I woke [my husband] and said, ‘Where’s my car, where’s my car?'”
When the 31-year-old and her husband moved into the Brampton home last year, Gaddu didn’t realize her nine security cameras weren’t recording.
But her neighbours captured footage of what appears to show at least two people wearing hoodies break into her locked vehicle and drive away.
Police say three other vehicles on Gaddu’s street were broken into that same night. While the thieves took things in those other robberies, they didn’t steal the vehicles outright.
Couple finds stolen car 1 km from home
A Peel Regional Police officer came and took a statement from Gaddu on Sunday.
But when she didn’t get an update the next day, Gaddu and her husband went searching themselves.
“We’re hunting for my car, because I felt like no one else is.”
After a disappointing hour, the couple was driving back when Gaddu spotted what she thought might be her car parked on a side street a kilometre away from their home.
“‘Please, please, please be my car.’ That’s exactly what I said, and I saw the licence plate. My licence plate was still on it.”
The couple took a video of the car as proof and, according to the couple’s call log, contacted police to report what they’d found at 5:55 p.m. Monday.
The couple allege that police told them that because there wasn’t a crime in progress, the pair would have to wait. Police also said that because there might be fingerprints, or other evidence on the vehicle, they should not touch the car, Gaddu said.
“I’m sitting there and [family members] are bringing us drinks and food, my vitamins, like it was so awkward,” she said. “Why am I sitting on the side of the street, when I live a kilometre away and I’m a tax-paying citizen?”
Delayed police response ‘makes no sense’
Gaddu said she and her husband ended up waiting for police for more than six hours.
She said she was nervous the whole time, worried that whoever stole the car might come back to pick it up. The assailant had left gum and a charger inside, Gaddu said.
“I would understand a 45- [or] 60-minute response time, you know, that makes sense, no problem,” she said. “But, come on, six hours? And I’m telling [them] I’ve secured the vehicle and I’m telling [them] his stuff is in the car [and] you could possibly catch this person.”
At midnight, the couple went to the police station.
“I think if I wasn’t pregnant we may have been able to sit out another five hours, but that’s part of the reason why we left because I’m like, ‘OK, I’m going to throw up.'”
Police say they prioritize crimes that are in progress
Peel police dispute their response time, saying the couple first called at 7:51 p.m. That’s about two hours later than what CBC Toronto saw on Gaddu’s call log.
Police said the longer response time would have been because they prioritize crimes that are in progress, especially ones involving violence.
By the time the couple finished at the police station, they learned from a family member that the car had disappeared again.
“We were shocked,” Gaddu said. “I felt like I was handing [the stolen vehicle to police] and nobody cared. It’s like you’re screaming and nobody’s listening.”
Car thief ‘has no fear’
A neighbour on the street where Gaddu spotted her car on Monday night told CBC Toronto that the vehicle was back a number of times over the course of the week.
A police spokesperson said officers are actively investigating the incident, including using security footage the neighbour gave them to track down the suspects.
Still, five days after her car was originally stolen, Gaddu said she feels nervous in her own home.
“Especially, if they were parked a kilometre from my home,” she said. “They have no fear.”