The curious case of a Philly city councilmember’s missing SUV

Members of Philadelphia Metropolis Council — they are just like us. So much so that they’re evidently not immune from obtaining their car randomly stolen.

Councilmember Curtis Jones Jr., who represents West Philadelphia’s 4th District, previously this month awoke to his driver frantically alerting him the pol’s metropolis-owned Ford Explorer was absent — Philly is a single of the only big metropolitan areas that grants elected officials taxpayer-funded motor vehicles.

On the evening of June 30, Jones’ driver, who is also a staffer from his Council business office, had parked the SUV in the driveway at his household near 54th Road and West Columbia Avenue, in West Philadelphia. When he arrived out the subsequent early morning, the car or truck was gone.

“It’s a thriller how they stole it. I never consider [the driver] remaining the keys in the motor vehicle.”

Councilmember Curtis Jones Jr.

The driver noted it missing to Philadelphia law enforcement, who arrived at the scene around 9 a.m. on July 1. In accordance to a police report, the driver said the car or truck experienced been locked. The identical report indicated that nearby surveillance cameras ended up not operational, leaving very little proof.

Even so, Jones mentioned, law enforcement later that working day seen the errant SUV was parked and unoccupied. Law enforcement records show it was sitting down at 54th and Morse Streets in the city’s Wynnefield segment — fewer than two blocks away from the scene of the crime.

Instead than putting this secret to rest, the recovery only raised much more concerns.

Detectives discovered no proof of a crack-in, and Jones explained very little was taken — not even the sneakers and baseball glove he’d used to perform in the City Council softball game a few times prior.

Jones theorized an knowledgeable auto thief might have employed some kind of “device” to unlock the vehicle and start it.

“It’s a mystery how they stole it,” he mentioned in a cellular phone job interview. “I do not consider [the driver] remaining the keys in the motor vehicle.”

As for why such a thief would just fall it on the aspect of the street nearly within eyeshot of where it was boosted?

“According to my street legends,” he mentioned, “I’m likely to say they recognized it was the councilman’s vehicle and pulled over promptly and ran for their lives.”

Jones said investigators processed the vehicle and he planned to decide on it up early future 7 days. Above the past yr, the legislator has set a bit around 7,000 miles on the SUV, which was assigned to Jones in 2016 and expense the city about $24,000, in accordance to metropolis fleet information.

He was not the to start with politician to have a car or truck taken in Philadelphia. Last March, previous-Councilmember-turned-convicted-felon Bobby Henon’s 2017 Ford Escape was stolen in broad daylight although it was parked outdoors his district office on Torresdale Avenue.

Henon experienced left the SUV running although he ran within for what he claimed was “less than a moment.” Police discovered the auto — his own car or truck, not town-owned — later in the day, about 10 miles absent in West Philly.

And in December, U.S. Rep. Mary Homosexual Scanlon was carjacked and robbed at gunpoint right after attending a assembly in South Philadelphia’s FDR Park. Five young people were arrested in connection with the midday incident, even though the auto was afterwards recovered by federal agents around Newark, Del.

Car thefts in Philadelphia have skyrocketed around the previous two many years. In 2021, more than 8,800 vehicles ended up claimed stolen — far more than four times the selection stolen in 2019. And as of last month, automobile thefts in the town so significantly this 12 months have been up additional than 40% in excess of 2021.

Jones stated it is “a little embarrassing” that this time metropolis residence was involved. He’s just happy the SUV procured with taxpayer dollars was swiftly observed and that no just one was harmed.

“Council persons aren’t immune to crime,” he claimed. “It occurs to us, as well.”

Personnel author Max Marin contributed to this posting.