ASHEVILLE, N.C. — “It took less than probably two seconds,” Robbie Taylor said of having her car stolen right in front of her in Biltmore Park.
It happened about 7 a.m. Thursday. Taylor had the key fob in her pocket when her car was stolen.
Once she pushed the button and started the car, she’d given the vehicle the security code it needed. And until it was turned off, that’s all thieves needed to make off with the vehicle.
It’s unusual for Taylor’s Boston terrier Hannah’s bed to be empty, even at her workplace.
“She’s at home by herself for a little bit today, because with me screaming, she got a little upset,” Taylor said.
It all started with Taylor’s daily routine, which included taking Hannah with her to the office.
“I got out of the parking garage and parked in my normal parking space,” Taylor explained.
The car was left running in Biltmore Park, to keep it warm, near a restaurant and Pilates studio.
“I got Hannah out of the car and walked her in the little grassy area and had not been out of the car more than five, six or seven minutes, she was just walking around,” Taylor said.
That’s when she noticed a quickly passing car.
“He bottomed out and sparks went flying, and before the car could get good and stopped, it looked like the silhouette, it was dark so I couldn’t tell, but looked like the silhouette of a young man got out, jumped in my car and drove off,” Taylor said.
Even with the key in her pocket.
“But since the car was started, until they turn that car off, they will have no issues,” Taylor said.
In February, a News 13 Reality Check found North Carolina saw a 13 percent jump in vehicle thefts. The National Insurance Crime Bureau said technology advances with key fobs has made it easier to re-key stolen vehicles.
“You wipe the memory, you wipe it out of the car’s computer, you reprogram the key you have to that vehicle, and now you’re off to the races,” said Frank Scafidi, with the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
A check of South Asheville’s crime stats found nine reported stolen vehicles, from box trucks to dealership cars within five miles of Biltmore Park, according to the Asheville Police Department’s crime map over the last 30 days. One of those was within feet of Taylor’s near the YMCA three days before her car was taken Thursday morning.
“I do think that someone was actually watching me, because it happened so quickly,” Taylor said.
She is warning others not to drop their guard, even somewhere they feel safe.
“I think that it’s a real lesson that not to get too comfortable with your surroundings,” Taylor said.
She also plans to change some of her old habits with the start of the New Year.
Asheville police are investigating to determine if the two Biltmore Park incidents might be related. They remind you to lock your vehicle and ensure the keys are secure.