NEW ORLEANS — In a busy gas station in the middle of the day, a car thief drove off in one woman's car while she was pumping gas. New Orleans police are still trying to identify the man who stole that car. It happened at the Costco gas station, according to the report from NOPD.
NOPD claims, auto thefts happen frequently at gas stations. They offered tips to protect yourself.
Also last week, two vehicles were stolen at another gas station on Carrollton just a few blocks away. NOPD said both drivers left their vehicles unattended and running while they went inside the gas stations. Police aren't sure if those incidents are connected.
"Carjacking is a crime of opportunity," said former NOPD officer, Chief Reginald Rowe who now owns a security company called Seal Security. "People have a habit of leaving their vehicles running or the keys on the seat with the doors unlocked."
NOPD offers these tips:
1) NEVER leave your vehicle unoccupied or unlocked with the keys inside or the engine running for any reason. ALWAYS turn off, lock and secure all doors and windows to your vehicle when it is not in use. This includes utilizing an alarm or other anti-theft device. It only takes an instant for a would-be carjacker to enter a running vehicle and drive away.
2) NEVER leave the keys to your vehicle or spare keys to any vehicle inside your vehicle.
3) ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings.
4) ALWAYS park in a well-lit and secure area.
5) NEVER leave valuables in plain sight in a vehicle, as to not entice would-be thieves.
6) ALWAYS notify police if your vehicle is stolen and has tracking services such as OnStar, etc. If these services are active, this can be used to locate the vehicle.
7) ALWAYS keep a record of your vehicle’s license plate number, VIN and registration. In the case that it is stolen, this information is vital to police investigating the theft.
8) ALWAYS report any suspicious persons or activity to NOPD.
Push to start cars may cause many to leave their keys in their purse or cup holder. Rowe suggests always keeping your keys on you.
"Keep it in your pocket or keep your keys in your hand," he said. "Now I will tell you think - if it's your life or your vehicle, give the vehicle up."
He also said it is crucial to stay aware of your surroundings.
"When you're at the gas station, stay off your phone. You think 'I have some downtime. I'll look through Facebook, Instagram while I'm sitting here.' Well, guess what, if you're not paying attention to your surroundings, you're the person the carjacker is looking for."
No suspects have been identified or arrested in the gas station car thefts last week on Carrollton. Anyone with additional details on this incident is asked to contact NOPD Second District detectives at 504-658-6020 or Crimestoppers of Greater New Orleans at 504-822-1111.