KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jennifer McLaughlin's blood boils every time she looks at surveillance video she says shows young thieves at a gas station in her stolen SUV.
"It's more than anger. It's fear," the Shawnee mom said. "I mean they stole my car which had my debit cards, cell phone and driver's license in it. All I was doing was dropping off my sick child at my mom's house."
Last Friday was supposed to be a fun, happy time for McLaughlin and her daughters. They were all looking forward to celebrating McLaughlin's twins' birthday.
"I was going to have just a little party initially and a bigger one later with all of my family. We usually do a little thing. I like to make their birthday special," McLaughlin said.
But the family's special day was suddenly ruined after thieves stole McLaughlin's 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan right before her eyes.
"All I did was take my daughter to my mom's house because my child was sick. I hung up her coat, and when I looked out the living room window, I saw my my lights on my car come on, and they just took off down the street. I had tossed my keys in the center console, just thinking nothing of it. I wasn't able to do anything for my daughters' birthday," McLaughlin said with tears streaming down her face.
The mother of six now regrets leaving her keys in her car. Just days into the New Year, the 35-year-old shipping clerk no longer has her only means of transportation.
"It's just so frustrating. I work hard for this car. I mean a lot of people think, 'Oh, it's just a car,' but it's not. I was very proud to have a new automobile, something reliable and dependable that I could get my kids around," the Shawnee mom said.
The thieves stole McLaughlin's vehicle from her mother's drive-way near 61st and Quivira.
Two days later, McLaughlin got an unexpected phone call from a gas station attendant in KCK.
"Well, she called and told me that a customer at the gas station near 18th and Grandview found my medical card and my gift cards just dumped on the ground," McLaughlin said. "She also later showed me the surveillance video of these kids. One of them got out my car and went to pay for some gas. He looks to be 15. The other one was on the back, passenger side door wearing gloves and wiping off my car. I believe he was wiping his fingerprints off my vehicle. I want my car back. I want them caught, and I want them prosecuted."
As of Thursday night, the Shawnee mom's kids were still staying with their grandma, and police were still looking for McLaughlin's stolen car.
"It's just turned my whole life upside down," she said. "I know they were kids, and they think, 'Oh they're just joyriding.' But I just hope they don't damage my car. These kids don't think about how hard people work for their things. I hope they will abandon it, and I can get it back. That's all I got! I'm now gonna have to start all over again with insurance and everything."