Vehicle theft victim warns others to be vigilant with keys

Posted at 1:54 PM, May 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-15 13:59:31-04

WACO, Texas — Frank Gonzales has a passion for rescuing shelter animals. He runs the dog rescue H2M2, designed to help huskies and malamutes find homes.

"I would say it's my second full time job," he told 25 News. "It's my passion to help the dogs so it kind of gives you purpose."

H2M2 has paired more than 300 dogs with their forever homes since 2016. Many of those animals are sent to states up north where the climates are better for these breeds.

"Texas has an influx of dogs needing help so our goal is to get some of these dogs into other areas," Gonzales said.

The whole operation almost came to an end just last month when the organizations main vehicle was stolen.

"We use it to transport food donations from Brownwood that we get," Gonzales explained. "We use it to transport dogs to the veterinary clinics to the forever homes. It's definitely used quite a bit."

Gonzales was shopping at HEB on 19th street in Waco when he says he left his keys alone in the cart for just a moment.

Waco Police Department Public Information Officer Cierra Shipley said this is a common cause for vehicle theft.

"We call these situations kind of a crime of opportunity," she said. "It's not all the time a criminal is targeting a certain vehicle or area, it's one of those things that if they see there's an opportunity to take something then they are going to take that advantage."

Shipley said people leaving their keys unattended or their cars unlocked and even running often leads to theft.

"If you leave the keys in your car or the car running, it's so so easy for someone to just hop in the front seat and take off," she said.

When a vehicle is stolen, it's not always recovered. Luckily for Gonzales his was found about a month later.

"I was really relieved when the vehicle was recovered so we could finally get back to business and help the dogs," he said.

While it was recovered, it was also pretty damaged and not yet ready to get back on the road.

The situation put a damper on H2M2. They were on an intake freeze for three weeks, missed adoption events and now are dealing with repairs adding up to over $1,000.

Gonzales is now warning others to be more mindful so they don't end up in the same boat.

"Make sure you keep your belongings with you," he said. "They have the carts you can put your phone in, I wouldn't do that. I always make sure my phone is put away but for some reason always thought keys were safe. No, keep your possessions with you."