ST. LOUIS — Ariane Moore got carjacked once — and then a second time by the same men after she found her car and was waiting for a locksmith to show up.
Moore, 28, is questioning St. Louis police procedure on whether an officer should stay on the scene if victims find their car and can’t get back in.
Moore was with three friends getting into her 2011 Chevy Cruze just after 1 a.m. Sunday in the 1400 block of South Vandeventer Avenue when two armed men ordered the women out of the car.
Sunday afternoon, Moore used GPS technology that her car dealership installed and found her Cruze in the 11100 block of Lookaway Drive in St. Louis County.
She went there with her mother and sister in a different car and called police. Once there, St. Louis police officers told her she could have it towed or wait for a locksmith. She opted for the latter to save money. She said the officers left, the thieves returned and her car was stolen — again.
A police department spokeswoman, Officer Michelle Woodling, said officers asked Moore if she wanted them to stay until she was able to get in her car, but she declined. Moore denies that claim.
“I wasn’t even OK to leave my house that day to make sure that was my car, so I know I didn’t tell them that we were OK, and that they could just leave,” she said. “They just said their job was done and that was the end.”
The number of carjackings in the St. Louis area is averaging close to one a day. Moore says her story is a cautionary tale for victims who find their cars. The department has no policy on requiring an officer stay with a recovered vehicle and its owner, but Moore said maybe there should be one.
“I guess they weren’t expecting them to come back, but who was?” she said. “I just feel like they should have been there.”
In 2016, police believe carjackers murdered a locksmith who was trying to get into the car they had stolen. In that case, the victim left to get cash to pay the locksmith, Joseph Hults, 52. The victim returned to find Hults, his vehicle and her car gone. Hults’ body was found burning inside his van. He had been shot.
Lakeisha Harris, 28, is one of Moore’s friends who was with her during the initial carjacking in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood. The women were leaving a festival in the nearby Grove neighborhood.
Harris said she fought with one of the thieves, trying to get her friend’s keys back. He pushed her down and hit her with the gun, leaving her with a knot on her head, a bruised tailbone and a gash on her head. She said she stood in front of Moore’s car and rolled over the hood as the suspects drove off.
When Harris heard the men stole Moore’s car again the next afternoon, Harris said she was stunned.
“That should have been common sense,” she said. “We were just robbed at gunpoint and we found her car, but still they left her unprotected? It was bogus. It didn’t make any sense. ... They could have caught those guys.”
Moore said she and her family were sitting in their car at the end of an alley near the stolen car as they waited for the locksmith when the two men approached. Moore said they were wearing the same black hoodies, black pants and black shoes as they wore during the first incident. They appeared to be teenagers, one with a dark complexion, low haircut, clean shaven, while the other had a medium complexion, medium build, ungroomed with short sandy brown dreadlocks.
They first sat nearby after spotting Moore and her family. They then walked over to a pile of trash, including a mattress, where Moore believes they stashed her keys, and got into her car.
“They reversed it out of the alley, and we were at end of the alley and they pulled right in front of our car,” Moore recalled. “I just kept saying, ‘Don’t leave! Don’t leave! Don’t take my car! And they looked me dead in my face and kept driving.”
About 5:30 p.m., St. Louis officers found Moore’s car in the 3400 block of Minnesota Avenue. She went to the scene, where the officer helped her search for her belongings in nearby dumpsters and knocked on doors to find witnesses who saw the car thieves. Moore asked to have her car towed to her house.
This time, the officer stayed with her until the tow truck arrived.