This one may just be eligible for Guinness World Records: Palm Springs resident Tracy McKain has been a victim of vehicle-related thefts four times in the 3 1/2 years she has lived at her current residence.
In fact, her latest vehicle, a 1999 Honda Civic, has been swiped three times since last October. During the most recent theft, in May, the car was taken even though half of the steering wheel had been cut off during the previous theft.
The police report reveals that the car didn’t even have license plates.
“And no gas, nor lights, either!” McKain said. Yet her Honda was again stolen at night, and somehow driven to Desert Hot Springs, where police found it abandoned.
For 3 1/2 years, McKain has rented a studio in a small Stevens Road condo complex not far from downtown Palm Springs. Her front window is about 50 feet away from her designated parking spot. She used to drive a Ford truck, until its wheels where stolen in the middle of the night in that same spot.
After that, she was only able to afford a used late-model Honda. (It’s worth noting that the Honda Civic is the second-most-stolen car in the country, right behind the Honda Accord, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.)
“I’m on state disabilities due to a work injury,” she said. “I’m not working at this time.”
The police reports indicate McKain’s Honda was first stolen from the parking lot at her Stevens Road residence last October. She remembered walking out of her home—and realizing her car was gone.
“I was standing in my empty parking spot, and I just burst into tears,” she recalls.
Eighteen hours later, the police found the car in an empty field in Desert Hot Springs. To protect her car, McKain got “The Club” anti-theft device and placed it on the steering wheel. Nonetheless, six months later, the Honda was stolen again.
“I was sad and wondering: How did they take ‘The Club’ off?” she said.
She got her question answered when the car was found—still running—seven hours later. It was missing half of its steering wheel, as well as the stereo and part of the dashboard.
Less than a month later, the same Honda—despite the crippled steering wheel and the missing stereo—was stolen yet again.
Sgt. William Hutchinson, spokesman for Palm Springs Police Department, confirmed these vehicle-theft reports, and explained what happens after a stolen-vehicle report is filed.
“We take a report and enter that information into a statewide database,” he said. “… Property detectives may potentially receive the case, or the Riverside County auto-theft task force may take the case.”
Hutchinson said no suspects have been identified regarding the thefts of McKain’s car. He added that it would be helpful for the condo complex to install security cameras.
Cindy Anderson, the property manager for the condo complex where the thefts took place, did not respond to an interview request regarding camera placement. Instead, she forwarded it to the homeowners association board.
Lee Bothe manages Community Association Financial Services, a company which works with the property. She agreed that cameras are an inexpensive way to safeguard cars and HOAs.
“With all the affordable technology of today, all that’s needed are cameras and a DVR in a box locked up at the HOA,” Bothe said.
As for McKain, she has bought yet another car, her third since moving to the condo complex. She is keeping her fingers crossed that the HOA will install cameras and motion-detecting lights.