VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Fifty percent of car thefts in Volusia County are due to cars left running and keys being easily accessible, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Mike Chitwood says thieves are lurking, waiting for drivers to leave the door open and engine on for them to get away.
"You have people out there, in particular, juveniles that are six and seven deep in a car, that go into the gas stations that go into parking lots, looking for somebody who has left their car running," Chitwood said. "It takes seconds, not 30, less than 10, they're in your car and they're gone."
One of the victims who made that mistake is Bruce Turnbull. He says he was leaving the Deltona Publix when he left his car running for just a few seconds with his dog inside.
"I left the AC on for the dog and when I put the groceries in the back, I was only going to walk away a few feet, so I didn't think nothing of it," Turnbull said.
He also works at the Publix store and says he's done this many times, but this time was different.
"As soon as I turn around, I seen someone driving off in my car. He must have been hiding in the bushes," Turnbull said.
To make matters worse, inside the car was Bruce’s 15-year-old Chihuahua, Roxie.
He thought it would be the last time he would see her.
"I thought that was it. I assumed the worst and hoped for the best, and fortunately, that happened, the best came out of it," Turnbull said.
Luckily, Roxie was found a few blocks away after a day and a half. She was reunited with her owner.
"Oh, I was ecstatic. She's was out probably 36 hours on her own," Turnbull said.
Sheriff Chitwood says Bruce is lucky because Roxie could have been lost forever.
Authorities are still looking for Turnbull’s stolen car and the thief.