The Crime: Car theft
The Victim: Opal Barnette
Location: 6700 block of Winton
Date: Friday, July 15
Time: 10 a.m.
It was just a joke, or so she thought.
Opal Barnette’s oft-repeated joke was that somebody could take her car if he wanted it. She never anticipated, however, that someone would actually steal it right in front of her.
Barnette was getting ready to drive to the beauty shop when she encountered her first set of problems.
“My key just would not turn in the lock. I couldn’t open it to save my life. I got it open enough to get my purse in there,” she says.
Because Barnette’s 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass was parked on a hill, the door quickly snapped shut.
“And then I was getting more nervous because I knew my key wouldn’t work again,” she says.
Her next set of problems began when a man walked up her driveway and asked if she needed help.
“Usually there’s a lot of people through here, ’cause they’re doing a lot of building,” Barnette says, referring to the construction on her block. “I didn’t think anything of him just walking by. I don’t know where he came from.”
He was kind and ready to help, Barnette says. She handed him her keys and after a little work, he was able to turn the key in the lock. He got right in and just sped off, she says.
“He could’ve shot me or knocked me to the wall, but he didn’t. He just wanted the car,” she says, adding: “I didn’t care so much about that car. I don’t know what he’ll do. I guess he’ll strip it. Anyway it’s been a big, big headache. It’s just made me sick. I had my purse, billfold, both of my bank books, and both sets of keys in that car. Everything had to be cancelled. I don’t have my driver’s license or anything.”
“She wasn’t harmed and that’s the most important thing,” says Jane Cross, a family member and owner of the house where the car was stolen. “Opal and her niece are living in that house, and a lot of older people live in that area. It’s probably a crime of opportunity.”
Barnette wishes she had made the opportunity easier because, odd as it sounds, that might have prevented the car from being stolen, she says.
“I’d been leaving it unlocked, but a friend was over the other night, and she said I really ought to lock my doors. I told her I didn’t really care; if somebody wanted the car they could take it, but I was just joking. I thought about it later on, and I went ahead and locked it. Now I wish I had just left it unlocked cause then I wouldn’t have had to mess with the keys.”
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