A stolen car is every driver’s worst nightmare. The thought of your vehicle being out there somewhere in the hands of criminal strangers can make you feel hopeless.
But that wasn’t the case for one Missouri woman, who made it her mission to track down the car herself using some amateur detective skills—and when she was nearing in on the culprit, she got out her camera to record the whole arrest.
Danielle Reno, the owner of a pet rescue, took her Toyota 4Runner to a gas station in Kansas City. But when she returned to her vehicle, she realized it was gone.
“I got out of my car, grabbed my daughter, and my car was gone,” Danielle recalled to KCTV. “Did I park somewhere else? No. I know I parked here. Somebody stole my car! And it was all downhill from there.”
Making things worse, Danielle’s phone, credit cards, and passport were all inside the vehicle.
Danielle filed a police report. However, that wasn’t enough for this carjacking victim. Instead, she decided to track the thieves down herself, concocting a clever plan to use the stolen items to find the car’s whereabouts.
She tracked her phone’s activity and reactivated her credit cards, allowing her to track the purchases made on the cards.
“We stalked this lady for 48 hours, Danielle said. “She had no idea what we were doing.”
This led her to a Quiktrip gas station near her house. The attendant recognized the car, and told Danielle that the car thieves were planning to go to Applebee’s.
With a fresh lead, Danielle and her friends split up to different Applebee’s restaurants throughout the city.
Danielle went to her location, and even sat down for a meal—when suddenly, in walked her target.
“Got our waters and she walked in the door,” Danielle said. “I about had a heart attack.” The woman had Danielle’s keys and wallet in her hands.
So Danielle got back at the car thief in the best way possible: she simply stole the car back, using her spare key.
Danielle got her car back and drove off, live streaming the whole adventure on Facebook. The woman had left the car a mess, with clothes everywhere, along with beer and drugs, and the smell was terrible. Still, it was a triumphant moment.
“It was exhilarating,” she told Inside Edition. “I had the biggest adrenaline rush ever. I was super, super happy.”
Danielle then pulled the car over in a parking lot to call the police. “You’re about to see ’em get busted,” she said on camera.
Sure enough, that’s what happened. The police arrested the woman, along with two apparent accomplices, at a nearby smoke and liquor store. Danielle arrived to capture the whole thing on camera.
The car thief was also found carrying Danielle’s shoes. According to KCTV, the woman was arrested and charged with two felonies.
The police told them that they don’t encourage people to take the law into their own hands like this, but added that Danielle did not put herself into any danger.
After all that, Danielle says her car might be beyond saving due to the condition the thief left it in.
“There’s stuff on the car seat. There’s stuff on the seat. It’s just gross,” Danielle said.
“There were dirty clothes and underwear all over,” she told Inside Edition. “It smelled horrible.”
Still, she got to have an exciting detective adventure—and serve some satisfying justice.