Tacoma mom’s car stolen while she was scraping off frost

A Tacoma mom was scraping the ice off her car Tuesday morning, when three men in a U-Haul stole her car.

At one point, the victim said one of the suspects also grabbed her arm as she was trying to run away.

“It’s just so scary, that’s why I want it out there,” said Jenn, who didn’t want to share her last name for safety.

“I’d never guess in a million years it would happen,” said Gabriel, her husband.

At around 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Jenn was about to leave for work at a local middle school. She got in the car and couldn’t get the wipers going, so she got out and started scraping off the windshield while the defroster was blowing.

That was when Jenn noticed a U-Haul van in the neighborhood. A neighbor’s surveillance video also shows the vehicle passing by in the 5000 block of South Park Avenue.

“It just felt weird and off. They drove past me kind of slower than you should, so I just got an eerie feeling,” Jenn said. As she kept scraping, the U-Haul turned around and approached her.

“They came right up to the side of me. The middle door was open the passenger door opened, and I just heard, ‘Hey, come here’ — and I just started screaming frantically,” Jenn said.

In the neighbor’s surveillance video, you can hear Jenn’s screams. At one point you can make out Jenn shouting, “What are you doing?!”

“I’m making a scene because I was scared, and as I was going towards my stairs I felt a hand grab my arm,” Jenn said.

Her husband said he had just kissed his wife goodbye for the day, when he heard her pounding on their front door.

“She beats on the door, screaming her head off,” Gabriel said. “She’s like they’re trying to take me! And I’m like, what the hell?” he said.

Jenn and Gabriel describe a man jumping out of the U-Haul and getting into Jenn’s car — which was still running — before everyone drove off.

“It all happened so fast,” Jenn said. She’s physically doing OK, but her family can’t help thinking about the “what ifs.”

“I wasn’t there to help take care of that. That’s what really gets me,” said Gabriel, getting emotional. “That’s my wife. She’s the key to my whole life,” he said. He said their teenage son was also at home, and woke up to witness the incident.

The family wants to warn others about what happened, so people can take extra precautions.

“Don’t just get into your groove, pay attention, look at your surroundings,” Jenn said.

“I’m prepared, don’t ever come back to my house. I want to say that — don’t ever come back to my house,” Gabriel said.

The crime didn’t end there. As Jenn had been leaving for work at a local middle school, her purse was also in the car. Jenn said the suspects used her credit cards to go on a shopping spree, hitting up multiple gas stations and spending $600 at Tacoma Discount World.

Also in the car was a very distinct ring that belonged to Gabriel’s late father — an item they’re hoping to get back.

“It’s very sentimental to me,” Gabriel said.

Tacoma police said that since the cold snap started this week, there has been a sharp spike in car thefts — mostly stolen while the cars were running and unoccupied, as owners waited for their vehicles to warm up. Police spokesperson Wendy Haddow said TPD has not heard of any other incidents with a similar M.O. with three men in a U-Haul van.