Illinois police say Volkswagen refused to help track stolen car with abducted toddler inside until fee paid
According to the Lake County Sheriff’s office, Volkswagen refused to help police search for an abducted two-year-old in a stolen Atlas SUV until someone forked over an unpaid fee to reactivate the vehicle’s tracking device.
The search for the toddler was delayed, the agency said, because of what the car manufacturer is calling “a serious breach of the process.”
Officers responded to a frantic call in Libertyville on Thursday afternoon, after a six-months-pregnant mom, returning from the pet store and pulling into her home, took one of her children inside.
As she came back out to collect her two-year-old, a man in a light green facemask climbed out of a white BMW and attempted to get into her car, according to the New York Post. She tried desperately to fight off the carjacker, but she was ultimately overpowered.
“The offender battered the woman, knocking her to the ground,” police said. “He then stole her car with the child inside.”
As the two cars sped away, one ran the 34-year-old mother over. She was hospitalized with severe wounds.
Upon arriving on the scene, police say they “immediately called Volkswagen Car-Net, in an attempt to the track the vehicle,” NBC Chicago reports.
“Unfortunately, there was a delay, as Volkswagen Car-Net would not track the vehicle with the abducted child until they received payment to reactivate the tracking device in the stolen Volkswagen,” the sheriff’s office said, according to NBC.
“Volkswagen takes the safety and security of its customers very seriously,” a spokesperson told the outlet in a statement.
“Our thoughts are with the victims and their family,” the statement continued. “Volkswagen has a procedure in place with a third-party provider for Car-Net Support Services involving emergency requests from law enforcement.”
“They have executed this process successfully in previous incidents,” the spokesperson claimed. “Unfortunately, in this instance, there was a serious breach of the process. We are addressing the situation with the parties involved.”
With no thanks to Volkswagen, the toddler was dropped off by the carjackers, unharmed, outside a business in Waukegan. It is unclear whether that happened before or after the car company received their fee.
Police located the stolen Volkswagen in a parking lot near the intersection of Route 43 and Casmir Pulaski Street, but they are still searching for the suspects, as well as the BMW, which was stolen from a Waukegan car dealership.
Meanwhile, the North Libertyville Estates neighborhood created a GoFundMe account to help the mother, identified as Taylor Shepherd, her two-year-old son, Isaiah, and the Shepherd-Koutelidakis family.
According to the fundraiser’s organizers, Colleen Pragalz and Erin DeAnda, Shepherd “suffered many broken bones and other internal injuries requiring surgeries and ongoing medical attention.”
“She has had a first surgery but will require continuous nursing care at home, physical therapy and possibly more surgeries,” they wrote. “The bills will be astronomical and, on account of these injuries, Taylor will be unable to work.”
Additionally, Shepherd’s unborn child “will require ongoing monitoring to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery.”
Police are seeking the public’s help in finding the suspects.
“If you see the stolen BMW or have any information about this incident please call the Lake County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division at (847) 377-4000 or contact Lake County CrimeStoppers at www.lakecountycrimestoppers.org,” the sheriff’s office said in a release.
Republished with permission from American Wire News Service
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