NORFOLK, Va. – Surveillance video shows a BJ auto mechanic checking the tires of a white Toyota Avalon. Moments later, an SUV pulls into the auto shop parking lot on E. Virginia Beach Boulevard in Norfolk.
You can see a man coming out, casually walking towards the Avalon. Then, he jumps into the driver’s seat and takes off. The other suspect in the SUV quickly drives away.
News 3 spoke with Avalon owner Angela Morgan when the theft happened three weeks ago.
“As soon as I gave him my keys, five minutes later, he comes back, very calmly, and tells me someone just left with my car, and I thought he was joking,” Morgan said. “I jumped out and ran outside, and my car was nowhere to be found.”
Norfolk Police released surveillance video of BJ’s on Tuesday. They said it was at least a two person job and are still looking for the suspects.
The footage clearly shows Morgan’s car door was left wide open. The mechanic told him the keys were on the seat.
News 3 spoke to Brandon Zeigler, an attorney with Parks Zeigler Attorneys at Law, and asked if BJ’s tire and service shop should be held liable for the theft.
“The allegation is that the keys were left on the seat,” Zeigler said. “If that’s the case and the car was left unlocked and the keys were left in the seat with the car unsecured but available to anyone passing by, I’d say the auto shop hasn’t behaved reasonably. to protect their customer’s property, and they will be responsible for the value of the vehicle.
Morgan ended up getting his car back.
Hours after our story aired, a News 3 viewer spotted the car in a Portsmouth car park. Since the car was undamaged, Zeigler said BJ was off the hook and Morgan was lucky.
“If the car comes back in the same or similar condition, count yourself lucky,” he said. “Most of them will end up in a chop shop and be gone forever.”
If your car is stolen, the first thing to do is call the police and file a complaint. Then contact your insurance and let them know.
If there is reason to believe the body shop was at fault, you can file a claim with them for the value of the vehicle.
If you collect your car, Zeigler advises that you take it to a mechanic you trust to have it checked out before you drive it.
“I would immediately take it to a garage you trust to have it checked to ensure that mechanically it is the same; that the brake lines haven’t been tampered with, or that something hasn’t been damaged that you don’t see a mechanic would,” Zeigler said.
News 3 contacted BJ’s. The spokesperson said they could not comment due to the ongoing investigation.
Anyone who recognizes the man or SUV in the footage is encouraged to call the Norfolk Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP (1-888-562-5887).