BRAZEN opportunist thieves have stolen the car of Korumburra woman, Jennifer Enright, after she stopped by the side of the highway near town last Sunday to render assistance to another motorist.
The incident left the local Good Samaritan shaken and upset, without a car and with no idea where it went, partially blaming herself for what has occurred.
[The car has since been found, on Monday afternoon, dumped in a creek near Drouin].
But Ms Enright has decided to go public with details of the ordeal as a warning to others.
“I was coming back from shopping in Melbourne on Sunday when I saw this guy in a 4WD who’d lost the wheel off his trailer, at about 1pm, 200 metres from the Whitelaw turnoff (1km west of Korumburra),” she said.
“He was an older guy and I thought he might need some help. The wheel had come off and rolled away into the bush.
“I thought I might be able to make a phone call for him or something.”
Thankfully she took her mobile phone containing her credit cards with her.
“I did a u-turn and pulled up about 10 metres away because of the roadside barriers and went with him to get the wheel from the grass.
“We were down the embankment a bit when the next thing I heard was my car door slamming. All I saw was a little, black, four-door car take off and my car after it.
“I only had time to yell out.
“I’d left my window down and the keys in the ignition, as you would, not thinking anything might happen, but in hindsight I should have taken them with me. But I was just so close by.”
Not only did the thieves get away with Ms Enright’s well-maintained, 2002 Toyota Prado 4WD, but also the $160 worth of clothes shopping in bags on the back seat, $260 in cash in her purse, boxes of things from work and a new $400 sound system ready for a road-trip to Tasmania over the Christmas holidays.
“The kids had also bought me a car fridge for the trip.
“I just can’t believe it. I’m still shaking. I couldn’t sleep last night.
“I was helping someone but I made the mistake of leaving my keys in the ignition and now I’m told I might not get my insurance.
“I could have got in another car and followed them I guess or done something different but it all happened so quick.”
The local man she helped, Geoff Bailey, who operates a guesthouse at Loch, is also devastated by what has occurred.
“I’m still in shock. I’m utterly disgusted personally that something like this could happen. That opportunist thieves or whatever have done this to someone who was rendering assistance.
“I don’t think it could be country people. I hope not. You’d think it was someone going back to Melbourne but who knows.
“She wouldn’t have been any more than 20 or 30 metres away from her car when it happened. I wouldn’t like to think they wouldn’t pay out her insurance for that.
“I want to give her a ring this afternoon,” he said.
Mr Bailey said he was driving along in his 4WD, towing a trailer when it broke a bearing, lost a wheel and went past him, rolling down the road for “about 1/2km” and then into the bush.
“The lady saw where it went, stopped, got out of her car and was pointing out where the wheel had gone. You could see from the grass that had been flattened.
“All of a sudden she screamed and said ‘someone is pinching my car’. It’s a disgrace,” he said.
The police attended the scene about 25 minutes after the incident and put a report into the system and ultimately received a report of the car’s location, up to the roof in water in a creek near Drouin.
“We put it up on Facebook and there have been over 250 shares and plenty of messages of support. We also put it up on the crime-watch pages,” Ms Enright said.
“I’m totally shocked. I just hope the bastards get caught.”
Police, she said, were investigating the dumping scene and taking fingerprints.
The lesson, Ms Enright says, is to be aware that these people are out there and not to leave valuables or keys in the car, no matter what.
“I wish I’d had one of those tracking devices in the car but who’d think something like this would happen.”