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Officer, I just stole my car

April 29, 2012

Ever experienced something which confirms the existence of God, and causes you to be awed that He chooses to interject Himself into His creation?

In April, 2012, we were having a multiple-date garage sale prior to moving.  I had the routine down:  Wake up early. Put out signs. Move stuff from the garage. Set up tables. Take money. Move remaining stuff back to garage. Repeat.

On this particular day, after setting out half the signs, I parked my Trailblazer in the street near the stop sign at the corner, about 50 yards away from the house.  Denyce and I started moving boxes from the garage to the driveway – a 90-minute chore, if done at full-speed.

Around 6:15 AM, we heard a car turn the corner onto our street and slow down as it approached our house. I thought, “You gotta be kidding me.”  I’d been at this endeavor long enough to learn there is no standard below which a “garage-saler” will not stoop.  But the car eased past the house and stopped at the corner.  Thankful I was not going to have to explain why we were not selling anything yet, I paid them little mind and continued bringing out tubs of sale items.

Suddenly, I heard a car door slam, an engine rev and Denyce exclaim, “Hey, isn’t that our car?!?!”   I looked up just in time to see two vehicles careen around the corner and disappear in the pre-dawn darkness.  It took a moment to register what was happening, but the empty spot on the street where my car used to be was really all the explanation one needed.  In a flash, it was gone.  (This is where I should probably mention that I’d left the car window down and the keys in the ignition.  Not one of my prouder moments.)

After I called 911 to report the theft, Denyce suggested I try to find them in our other car.  Why not?  The trail is still sort of fresh.  I screeched the tires as I rounded the corner on two wheels, headed for…..who knows where I thought I was going?

I drove around for 30 minutes, trying to look at every car, every parking lot, every Quik Trip.  Of course, I found nothing. At some point, I thought to myself, “This is pointless – and has to be the stupidest thing I’ve done since…….. well, since I left my keys in the ignition with the window rolled down.”

I went back to the house and called 911 again to report that I had remembered my tag number.  Denyce said she remembered the same car had passed by the house about 10 minutes prior to the incident and was sure it had cruised by the house a half-dozen times as we were closing down the sale the previous week, “I know they live around here somewhere.”

She volunteered to put out the remaining signs – and promptly disappeared for two hours, explaining that she was searching for the thief and his car in nearby neighborhoods.  With a mental roll of the eyes, I dismissed the idea as the ramblings of a person who’d just had their car stolen.

An hour later, Denyce realized that, amidst the chaos, she had forgotten a dentist appointment and drove off like her hair was on fire.  Another two hours passed.

I was on the phone with State Farm when my 85-year old neighbor came out of her house, yelling to me that Denyce was on the phone – and it’s an emergency!   Almost incoherent, Denyce was saying something about  finding our car, blocking it in with her car, and telling me to call the police – and, oh yeah, to “get over here right now”!

“I’m coming!”, although not fully comprehending that I had no vehicle.  My neighbor threw me her keys and I jumped in her car.  As I put the key in the ignition, the steering wheel started moving and the seat adjusted itself.  By the time everything stopped moving, my head was scrunched against the roof and I felt I was one with the steering wheel, perhaps permanently. I had no time to figure out the controls.  I just drove.

On the way, I called 911.  “Ah, Mr. Willis.  Good to hear from you again. (paraphrased)”  I explained the situation as best I could, knowing only generally Denyce’s location.  “Sorry, we can only send the police out to a specific address – when you know that, call us back.”

I drove down 71st Street, with my head in the roof and my knees in my chest, looking for an obscure apartment complex, when I saw Denyce standing on the corner, waving her arms at me.  You know the drill by now – I called 911 (on speed dial) – and the police showed up less than five minutes later.

Sure enough, Denyce had found our Trailblazer –  unlocked, with the window down.  (Don’t people know that’s how cars get stolen?)  The thieves were nowhere to be seen and, other than having the console and glove compartment rifled through, the car was none the worse for wear.

We didn’t get our keys back, but we did steal our car back.

Where does God enter the story?  While I was looking for the thieves, I had texted some friends and family to be in prayer for the situation, not specifying exactly what I was asking them to pray for.

After her dentist appointment, Denyce expanded her search area and drove by some apartment complexes a couple of miles from the house.  She prayed, “God, I don’t know where this car is, but You do.  Show me where to go.”  She turned into the apartment complex and, thirty seconds later, spotted our car.

Less than six hours after it had been stolen, Denyce found it two miles from our house, unharmed. I defy anyone to offer an explanation without acknowledging the power of prayer and the grace of an omnipotent God.

One of the most incredible aspects of this story is that I had no idea I have been living a superhero for 31+ years.  (Those closest are always the last to know – Aunt Harriet never did figure out her nephew was, indeed,  Batman.)  But, this explains a lot – the soft heart for the disadvantaged, frequent dinners with friends I only know by name, hours spent at “Alzheimer’s conferences” (what better cover?).  It all makes sense now.  I have not found her cape, but then, I have not finished going through all the stuff in the garage either…..

Postlude:

The police indicated that thieves frequently steal a vehicle, commit a crime, and ditch it in an apartment complex.  That may be true, but we are not buying that explanation in this case.  The evidence supports our suspicion that they really live there and that they intended to come back for it – why else would they leave it unharmed and take the keys?

Denyce wants to stake out their apartment complex until she sees the driver, whom she believes she can identify (and at this point, who am I to argue with her?), and the getaway car.  I’m not sure what she intends to do then, but they better hope she doesn’t find them – there may not be any pieces left over for me to pick up.

Oh, and she is insisting that I now call her Superwoman.

I have no problem with that.

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2 Comments
  1. i don’t believe I’ve ever heard a funnier story. glad y’all found the car…and what a superwoman denyce is!

  2. Krista McAtee permalink

    Oh Denyce!!! You are awesome!!! Way to go!! Superwoman! 🙂

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