The men who stole a car from a South Claiborne gas station Wednesday with a 2-year-old girl inside are suspected of a similar heist two days earlier, targeting cars left with the keys inside even though the owner was nearby, New Orleans police said.
In Wednesday’s case, the driver of an Infiniti G35 had gone inside the gas station in the 2100 block of South Claiborne, leaving his daughter and his keys in the car while a friend watched from another vehicle nearby, police said at the time. A red PT Cruiser pulled up and one of the occupants jumped out, got into the Infiniti and drove off with the girl still inside — though she was found 15 minutes later wandering at a Treme intersection, police said.
That red PT Cruiser was actually stolen in a similar manner from a gas station nearby two nights earlier, said NOPD Sixth District Commander Bob Bardy. The driver had pulled into the Valero station on South Claiborne at Martin Luther King Boulevard around 11 p.m., and was checking something at the rear of the car when another man jumped in and drove off in the car, Bardy said. No video has been recovered of that incident yet, Bardy said.
In both instances, the cars’ headlights were left on (and windshield wipers, in Wednesday’s case), possibly signaling the thieves that the cars were still on, Bardy said.
Investigators are hoping that the video from Wednesday’s incident will lead to viable tips from the community, Bardy said. Even though the footage may appear blurry, it’s likely that someone who knows the thieves personally will be able to recognize them from it, Bardy said.
The red PT Cruiser has a license plate of XTF 472, Bardy said. The black 2003 Infiniti G35 has license plate of XXM 725.
Anyone who sees either vehicle is asked to call the NOPD Sixth District at 658-6060, or CrimeStoppers at 822-1111 to leave an anonymous tip eligible for a cash reward.