Community Helps Casper Woman Find Her Stolen Car In Less Than 40 Minutes
Facebook groups aren't just ranting and raving, as a Casper woman whose car was recently stolen can attest.
Erica Schoenewald was shocked when her boyfriend's son came into her house and said, 'Where's the Fiat?'
Her car had been stolen right out of her driveway.
Schoenewald said that her boyfriend had been driving her unique, green Fiat the previous day and must have left the key in the ignition.
Schoenewald admitted that she stays up late and sleeps in late and that she was watering her plants at 2:00 a.m. the night/morning before. So the car had to have been stolen sometime in the early morning hours.
"I knew that it was after 2:00 a.m. that it disappeared," she said. "So I called the police and the guy came over and took a report and, as I've come to expect with local law enforcement, nothing happened."
So, Schoenewald took matters into her own hands or, rather, she took it to Facebook.
"There's only one of those cars around town, you know?" she laughed. "It's not a white truck or a blue sedan; it stands out. So after 24 hours, I thought they'd have seen it by then. So I put [a status update] on my private Facebook just because I was embarrassed that it got taken with the keys in it. But then I thought I'd just put it up on Casper Classifieds . And within 40 minutes, somebody knew where my car was."
It was a woman named Abby Muniz who first noticed the Fiat in the parking lot of the Casper Village apartment complex.
"Somebody said, 'Oh, is this it? It's at Casper Village,'" Schoenewald said. "And sure enough, there it was. I was at Menards at the time, so I called the police and told them I wanted somebody to go take fingerprints or something from that car before I go get it. So then I waited three hours, thinking 'What should I do? Do I just leave my car sitting there?' The cops hadn't called me back, nothing happened."
Schoenewald said that the woman who identified her car stated that it had been moved in the Casper Village parking lot, meaning that it had been driven a few times.
She also said that her across the street neighbor had video surveillance for her own home, and actually caught the thieves on camera. It was two males, according to Schoenewald.
"I told the cop, too," Schoenewald said. "I said 'My neighbor brought down a video and you can see two young guys taking their sweet time to steal it.' And [the cop] said 'That's not going to be any good to us. And I said, 'Well what about Casper Village? Did you ask them about their cameras? [The cop said] 'They're closed. We'll see what we're gonna do about it in the morning.' And I haven't heard a word from them today."
Adding to her frustration with the police is the fact that, after she alerted them that her car had been located, they didn't respond right away. But, when they finally did, they claimed that they had been the ones to find it...and they had it towed away.
"After about 20 minutes from when I first called them, I went back inside and saw that my phone had a missed call from the cops," she said. "And she goes, 'We found your car.' I was like, 'No you didn't. I called you and told you where it was and to get fingerprints off it."
Schoenewald said that her plan, since the car had a standard shift transition, was to get another car, put the Fiat in neutral, and just tow it back to her house.
The police, Schoenewald said, had other plans.
"They just had it towed," she said. "In that 20 minutes that it took for me to call them back - I had given them my number, my son's numbers, I was three blocks away; Casper Village is three blocks away - they could have by and said, 'Hey, you called us about your car. That we didn't recover. You can go get it now.' But no, they had it towed. It's 10:00 at night."
Schoenewald said she had to pay $175 for the tow fee, but that she's glad to have the car back.
"I told the gal who got ahold me and another guy who recognized it that I owed them both dinner," she laughed. "Or at least my gratitude. Because they took no time to see it and then report it. They probably did it instantly. And that's why they're more efficient than the Casper Police Department."
Schoenewald said that she's irritated with the CPD, and that that irritation transcends more than just this specific instance.
"This is the sixth time I've reported something to the police and I've never had them do anything," she explained. "They've never helped me. Ever. They took me to jail once when my dog ran away."
Schoenewald said that she would suggest to anyone that if anything ever gets stolen, they should post about it on Facebook.
"I could have just not called it in and had the same outcome, " she said. "So I would tell people to just go through Facebook. You don't get justice that way, but maybe you get your stuff back."
K2 Radio News has reached out to the Casper Police Department for comment, and to see if any arrests have been made in this case. We will update this story if/when we receive a response.