Thieves steal Winthrop woman's SUV; woman's sister hunts it down and grabs it right back

Lisa Paulson has her Ford Escape back tonight thanks in part to modern tracking technology but mostly due to her sister's chutzpah.

Paulson woke up Tuesday morning to find her Escape stolen right out of her driveway. After contacting police, who basically told her there wasn't much they could do, she called EZ-Pass to cancel her account, her sister, Kathleen O'Connell, reports. "Oh, well, that's funny," the woman at EZPass said - the car had just gone through the tolls on the Tobin Bridge.

O'Connell says at that point she figured the car was somewhere in Chelsea. Further confirmation came when a woman from Chelsea called Paulson yesterday to ask why she'd dumped a bunch of papers on a street there; she hadn't of course, the thieves had.

O'Connell says that when her sister went to retrieve her papers, she also found a smashed GPS nearby. It wasn't hers, but she took it as possible evidence - and then called the manufacturer to ask how to hook it up to a computer to retrieve its route information. And that showed it last reported being about a block away from where the papers were.

O'Connell told her sister she was going to go get her Escape back. She explains her sister and her husband both work full time, they have two kids in school, they need that ride.

So O'Connell grabbed her sister's key fob and friend Alyssa Santoro and they drove over to Chelsea. They started near where the papers and GPS wound up, on Crescent Street. Nothing.

For 45 minutes they slowly drove the streets of Chelsea, the friend constantly pressing the horn-alarm button. "We went up and down, up and down, up and down," she says "All of a sudden, we went down the street and 'beep, beep, beep,' it was right next to us."

O'Connell says she immediately jumped out of her car and into her sister's. She started it up, and floored it, racing away before she'd even turned on the lights.

Wasn't she worried if the thieves came out?

"It took me less than three seconds," she said. "I'm jumping out and jumping in her car. It happens so fast, I didn't even have a second to think."

She adds, "They had fresh air fresheners, blunt rappers,bags of weed, iPhone wires. They planned on keeping it."

Once safely back in Winthrop, O'Connell drove to the police station to report the SUV found. "You did what?!?" the police officer she talked to asked. "I think you're in the wrong profession."

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    Comments

    "You did what?!?" the police

    "You did what?!?" the police officer she talked to asked. "I think you're in the wrong profession."

    What profession is it that recovers stolen cars? Since apparently it isn't "police".

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    I found my stolen car. I

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    I found my stolen car. I parked behind it and called the police. They showed up with lights flashing, and proceeded to knock on the doors, inquiring whether or not the residents knew anything. I, of course, questioned the process ( Do you really think they're going to tell you?!) Do you want to press charges, they asked me. Hell yes, grand theft auto, I said. They didn't dust for prints, asked me if the rap CD in the player was my "jam", and sent me home to get the spare key. I drove it to another residence, since the thieves still had my key, and had to pay to get it rekeyed. The police proceeded to tell people, according to the local barber, that they had "located a stolen vehicle". I LOCATED IT! Your tax dollars at work...

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    The keys were left in my

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    The keys were left in my Sisters pocket of her Jacket, in the car. The car was locked, so they broke in through the back window we believe. Actually glad they did have they keys and not break the ignition, because I was at least able to put the keys in and drive it away.. :)

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    Ok, I'm going to defend the police a little here.....

    or at least the attack on them.

    You believe they broke in through the back window? Was it open?

    (And car thieves would never damage an ignition to steal a Ford Escape unless they know it has already been damaged and is being used without the need of a key)

    And yes, people love to tell the police what they saw, if they saw something suspicious. Not always, but it isn't uncommon.

    And I'd say less than 1% of thieves actually plan on keeping the car. Druggies do keep air freshners to hide the smell of smoke though.

    So

    By on

    You spend all the taxpayers money sitting on your ass munching donuts and making up lame excuses.

    Got it.

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    You didn't say anything to

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    You didn't say anything to defend the police... what does the thieves' method of entry have to do with the police? People love to tell the police what they saw... Again how is that relevant?

    Less then 1% of car thieves don't intend on keeping the car? What are you basing that on? Yeah mainly they want to chop it down for parts or just joyride it but I think 99% is quite an exaggeration... your entire post is nonsensical.

    All that aside, I also don't see how you can justify how lazy the police are about stolen property. They can log a license plate of a drug dealer so they can pull him over and harass him until they catch him in posession so they can seize his car and cash, but they can't use their license plate readers to keep an eye out for this lady's car while on patrol? I get that it's nigh impossible to retrieve stolen electronics or jewelry but they could at least try when it comes to a vehicle.

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    I too found my stolen car

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    Was mostly riding my bike or taking the T to work for a few weeks as I wasn't driving for work much. It was moving in and out time and I must have parked it in a soon-to-be no parking spot due to a moving permit. Walk out on a Friday morning, nothing there. Call up the tow lot "we don't have it, try the (only other city) lot."

    I call them, nothing. They tell me to call the other lot, which I've already done. Go down to D3, tell the cop what happened, he says it's probably been towed and he'll make a call. A few minutes later, he says it's probably stolen - file a police report.

    Almost 2 weeks later, I get a call: "Detective ___, we found your car." Great, how bad is it? "Turns out it was in a tow lot in Allston and the driver never called it in. You can go grab it now." Grrrrreat, thanks a lot BPD. The lot is some private contractor and told me there's no way in hell it get the car out without paying initial tow fee plus some outrageous amount per day as a "storage fee." The total amount was higher than the blue book of my car, so I was honestly ready to tell them to stuff it. Called the detective, he must have given them the business and they "let" me pick up my car with no charge.

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    That's annoying.

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    That's annoying.

    But remember, things could always be worse. For a while in Chicago, cars would get towed by police, and quickly sold at far less than market value to people with political connections.

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    Hey!

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    Leave the Winthrop cops alone! You think it's easy kicking kids off the beach year round?

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    It's not about cyclists, it's

    By on

    It's not about cyclists, it's about a woman who with the help of her sister helped recover her stolen SUV. Thanks for playing though!

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    thanks for posting this :)

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    Thank you so much for contacting me.. and also for posting the story!!

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    this story is..

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    so excellent that it needs to go viral...watch...3,2,1...

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    Done!

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    I happened to turn on Loren and Wally this morning (on the way back from dropping the kidlet off at Forest Hills) just as they were interviewing Lisa.

    Channel 25: Woman takes car back from car thief.

    Channels 5 and 7 might also be doing something, since they both saw the tweet that got me onto the story.

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    I wasnt packing anything,

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    I wasnt packing anything, Just wasnt giving up.. My sister is an amazing person, and I was just doing what I thought was right. I never thought Id actually FIND the car.. But I did. Nobody was hurt, and all is well..

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    Kathleen, you are VERY

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    Kathleen, you are VERY fortunate to NOT encounter the car theif (or thieves) when you found the car. You may not be armed, but HE or THEY might be. Once you found the car, I assumed you drove away VERY quickly.

    ?

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    Huh? Resourceful woman recovers car, so now you get to have a gun?

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    Congratulations to them on

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    Congratulations to them on getting the car back!

    I'm curious - why did she suspect the car was in Chelsea before they received the phone call about the personal papers which had been dumped?

    The EZPass call center told her it had just gone through the Tobin Bridge toll. Since the only toll is southbound, that means it had just left Chelsea.

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    Yeah....

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    Story is a bit suspicious. The car was stolen in Winthrop, driven over the Tobin SOUTH, and she assumes the car would be in Chelsea? A woman called because there were a bunch of papers on the street? Was her number in the phone book? If so, not sure it was the best idea to publicize this story using your real name...

    An older woman found my

    By on

    An older woman found my sisters checks, her medical records were in the folder with her name,address,and phone number. She had her name, and number so she called. We didnt assume the car was in Chelsea. There was a GPS with all my sisters things, and we called the GPS company and they downloaded the places the GPS had been. It was a crap shoot. I drove to the streets listed on the GPS. Lucked out, and found the vehicle. Nothing suspicious about it.

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    Got the vehicle back plus...

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    ...a free bag of weed!! I hope she put it in her pocket before the cops took it for themselves and fined her.

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    Let me preface this question

    By on

    Let me preface this question by saying that I'm a Winthrop resident who moved to town a little under 2 years ago. I'm curious how you were able to start the car once you found it?

    A couple of years ago, my husband's car was stolen in Revere and when it was recovered, it was essentially undriveable because the ignition system was ripped apart and needed to be rewired/repaired. How were the thieves able to start the car when they stole it without ripping apart the ignition?

    I will say that we've had a rash of petty car break-ins and at least one theft in my neighborhood in the past 6 months or so. To a man, each and every "break-in" occured in vehicles that were left unlocked and parked on the street. The one car theft that I know of happened to my next door neighbor, who admittedly left his car in the driveway overnight unlocked and with his keys in the ignition.

    I'm not saying that this vehicle was unlocked with the keys in it, but I am somewhat astonished/incredulous that apparently so many people who live in my town think it's perfectly fine to leave their cars unlocked and in some cases, leave their keys in the car? Frankly, all they are doing is sending a loud signal to the surrounding group of petty thieves, low-lives, criminals etc. that Winthrop is a perfect spot to make a quick score. Unfortunately, the next wave of criminals to come to town may be perfectly fine smashing in windows and "hot-wiring" ignitions, which would in turn, victimize those who do secure their vehicles.

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    She said above....

    That the keys were in her sisters jacket in a locked car and that she believed that they broke in through the back window, which was open I assume, because if it was smashed you would know for a fact that they gained access through the window.

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    It wasnt smashed. However,

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    It wasnt smashed. However, when we were looking over the car at the police station, we rolled the windows up and down, and the back window was making a terrible sound, which lead us to believe thats how they got in. My sister had an extra set of keys, which are the keys I had on me when I took the car back.

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    I'm sure they had a spare key

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    I'm sure they had a spare key. My question is how would a spare key have been usable in this instance because my experience with car thefts among spouses/friends has been that the key/ignitions are useless once the car is found.

    Your question was answered no

    Your question was answered no less than 2 times in this thread already. The thieves didn't touch the ignition. They used the key to start the car normally!

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    In my defense.....my first

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    In my defense.....my first question was posed to another poster "Susan" who appeared to be describing another incident similar, but not identical to this one. "Kathleen" responded to my question to Susan while I was typing my second comment regarding this incident and the pattern of car break-ins/thefts in Winthrop, so I didn't see her first response.

    Two subsequent commenters didn't seem to think I understood the concept of spare keys so I clarified and reiterated my question.

    The car was locked. As I

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    The car was locked. As I stated earlier, my sister had her winter coat in the car, because she just left hockey with my nephew. The keys were in her winter coat. It was locked.

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    As a former Suffolk

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    As a former Suffolk Prosecutor (in Chelsea, among other places), I must commend your decision to contact the GPS company to get that data. And I am happy, but surprised, that they gave you that data. Great work there. And good for the GPS company employee who probably bent a few rules to give you that data. I'm sure your sister is thrilled to have her car back.

    An architect friend of mine had his briefcase bag stolen out of his car one night. (smash and grab) I asked him what was in it and when he told me only architectural plans, I told him that it was likely within 100 yards of our location. Sure enough, we found it in a dumpster nearby. Crooks don't hold on to useless stolen property and for some reason they like to dispose of it properly (see: trash can or dumpster).

    Don't be too hard on the police. We can't expect a police department to drop everything and solve a property crime, no matter how impactful that crime may be to someone (see: a family who really needs their car).

    I assume the GPS device was powered on (when bad guys were driving)... instead of tucked away in the "glovy" or under the seat, unplugged, like mine is to avoid inviting a smash and grab. Interesting... perhaps I should keep it plugged in and hidden...

    Great Work!!!

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    Why can't police drop SOMETHING?

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    I can appreciate that police departments shouldn't drop everything to go after lost property, especially when that property is not essential to someone's daily life. But a car? This woman did it without police training and resources. Why can't cops drop something to recover something so valuable, so essential to someone's life as their car? There's a lot of condescension in the attitude that dismisses the impact car theft has on a persons daily life and economic survival.

    I moved out of a major city on the east coast in large part because of the local cops' attitude towards crime. I served on a local police district advisory board when we got a hot new precinct captain. One of our consistent complaints from residents had been the police response when they called about vandalism, fighting, harassment, drugs, and other nuisance crimes. Cops responding to 911 calls usually berated the residents for wasting their time, even mocked them, and told them they were lucky not to live in a worse part of the city. The new captain got wind of this and upped expectations, putting property and nuisance crimes on the front burner, telling the few grumbling cops that if they didn't like it, he'd gladly transfer them to 'X' precinct, since they thought residents should move there. Very quickly nuisance crime went way down, and so did other forms of crime. People were willing to give statements because the little rotters weren't around to make them the next victim. Parents made more of an effort to supervise kids because their minor children were hauled in and social services called.

    But the cops who liked the status quo complained - to the union, to the brass, to IAB, to anyone they could. The captain was bumped to a deck job. I left the meeting when his transfer was announced knowing we'd be back at square one with vandalism, violence, drug use, harassment and worse because any new captain would get the message: property and nuisance crimes didn't matter. At home, I puttered in my bedroom, fuming, when I realized that two men were walking down the opposite side of the street trying car door handles. I got 911 on, and was talking to the dispatcher when they found one with a window ajar. As I watched them go to work, begging the dispatcher to send SOMEONE she laughed and asked what 'Were they supposed to do?' It took 10 minutes from the time I dialed 911 for them to find, shim open, and jack away someone's property. The dispatcher got a little miffed when I thanked her for making it easier for them to steal the car. She was nasty when I asked if she would at least get someone to get a description, take a statement. "If we have someone available. Later" and hung up on me. No.one. NO ONE came. I wrote down everything I could remember, including having called 911, and gave it to the distraught parent who now had no car. NO car to get to work, no car to get her kids to the doctor, no car for grocery shopping. Yeah, property crimes are just inconvenient.

    My family moved out of the city later that year. I would rather live in an urban area. I grew up in a northeastern city, went to college in another small city, grad school in a major city. We've gone rurban. Interesting to us is that our very small, very local police department are consummate professionals. It's some of the staties that have that attitude I've found in too many city cops.

    I don't want to be hard on cops. Their job is difficult, and I salute them. But it's fair for residents and the public to expect more than a pro forma response to property crime.

    Next Steps

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    The scumbags still have your sister's key.

    Call the insurance agency and let them know how much money you saved them.

    Then get the car locks rekeyed, and the ignition rekeyed, too, and submit a claim due to damage done in a theft.

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    Holy hell.

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    The majority of people who've commented on this watch way too much Law and Order.

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