Keys left in car … ooops | VailDaily.com
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Keys left in car … ooops

Melody Cope, 26, is accused of stealing a car after the driver left the keys in the ignition and the engine running.
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VAIL – The Toyota Corolla’s tires screeched, startling Edwards resident Rob Lohman. Lohman sprinted after the red sedan speeding out of the Vail Transportation Center.”Hey! She’s stealing my car!” Lohman yelled.He caught up to the vehicle and pounded on the trunk in an effort to halt the thief.”I would’ve jumped in if I could’ve,” Lohman said. But the car Lohman’s friend had lent him sped east down the frontage road.

Lohman had just come out of the transportation center March 12, where he was checking to see if his friend had arrived in a Colorado Mountain Express van from Denver. Seconds before the car was stolen, Lohman got out of the Corolla – leaving the car running – to check if the friend had arrived.On his way to check, he saw a plump, white-haired woman squatting beside a trash can. “I actually caught her eye as I was walking into the transportation center,” Lohman said.Sixteen seconds after exiting the car, a couple of tourists reported seeing the woman get in the car and alerted Lohman, said Vail police Cmdr. Susan Douglas and Lohman.”I think somebody is stealing your car,” one tourist said.Sure enough, Lohman said he saw the woman adjusting the seat before she accelerated in a squeal of tires. Lohman caught up and pounded on the trunk, yelling for help, Douglas and Lohman said.

“Whoa, what happened?” asked one of several taxi drivers at the scene. One driver chased after the car while another called the Vail police.”Three strangers working together …” Lohman said.Lohman learned the car slid off the South Frontage Road into a snowbank in East Vail, police reports show. A police officer came and picked Lohman up, bringing him to the site of the crash, he said.The alleged car thief, Melody Cope, 26, of Orem, Utah, told police she was headed to Denver, reports show. When asked why she took the car, Cope said: “It was unlocked and running so I took it,” police said.Despite the crash, the car was undamaged. Douglas said Lohman positively identified the woman at the crash as the same person he saw taking the car from the transportation center.



Cope was charged with second-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft, a felony.”The moral of the story is don’t leave your keys in your car at a transportation center because people there need transportation,” Lohman said.Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14622, or jkperry@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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