Running Car Stolen from Citrus Heights Driveway, Owner Warns Others

CITRUS HEIGHTS -- Citrus Heights resident Mike Mashal says his wife only left her car for about a minute to grab something from inside her home, but when she came back out to the couple's driveway, the vehicle was already gone.

Security video shows two men pulling up outside the home in one car, then the driver gets out and hops inside the running Honda Pilot in Mashal's driveway.

"It was 7 in the morning," Mashal told FOX40, "I think these guys were just driving around neighborhoods looking for an empty running car."

The theft occurred Monday, and a couple of days later the Honda Pilot was found at a Citrus Heights apartment complex, Mashal said.

The Honda was cleaned of paperwork, but there was no other damage.

"It could have been worse, but I want people to not make the same mistake we did," Mashal said.

This type of warning normally comes from police departments, who like to remind car owners that opportunistic crimes like these can happen this time of year when the weather cools and people like to "warm up" their cars before they get in them.

The Citrus Heights Police Department did not have exact figures on how many cars are stolen out of driveways while they're running, however, they said on average a car is reported stolen once a day in the city.

Elsewhere, the Elk Grove Police Departments tells FOX40 there have been 200 reports of stolen cars in their city this year and on three separate occasions, the car was running in or near the owner's driveway.

The Citrus Heights Police Department says they are still looking for the man who stole Mashal's car. If you happen to recognize the suspect, you are encouraged to contact police.