UPDATE: The 2001 Oldsmobile Aurora belonging to Tia Enriquez was discovered Friday afternoon on Chestnut Street in Gilroy.
A single mother who is working three jobs to support her children hopes the culprits who stole her car will get what’s coming to them – or have a conviction of conscience and voluntarily return what they took.
Either way, 31-year-old Tia Enriquez just wants her mode of transportation back.
It’s not easy for the mother of two children, ages 2 and 11, to get by without a car. She works seven days a week just to stay afloat, bouncing between Gilroy Bowl in downtown, assistant managing at Chicos at the Gilroy Outlets and waitressing at Sandy’s Café near Monterey Highway and Luchessa Avenue.
“I don’t understand,” said Enriquez, who maintained composure for the majority of a phone conversation, until sniffles could be heard through the receiver. “I feel I don’t deserve this. I work as hard as I can, and feel like I’m never getting ahead. And then something like this happens.”
Enriquez went to work at Gilroy Bowl at 9 a.m. Aug. 8 and parked her car in the parking lot for Garlic City Billiards. She recalls setting her keys on the hood of her 2001 Oldsmobile Aurora, which she purchased six months ago with her own, hard-earned cash. Enriquez then walked around to the back of the car to get her apron out of the trunk. After tying it around her waist, Enriquez says she remembers checking her apron pockets.
“I thought I felt my keys,” she said. “It must have been my pens and my book.”
Enriquez noticed her keys were missing two hours later at 11 a.m. She ran outside and experienced what every car owner dreads: Walking up to an empty parking space where your car should have been parked.
“My heart dropped to my feet…I was hysterical,” said Enriquez, who second guessed herself and wondered if she actually parked somewhere different. “But the reality was my car was gone.”
Enriquez does not have full insurance coverage.
She’s hoping a downtown surveillance video that captured the thief, and possible accomplices in action will help police track down the offenders. The three individuals caught on tape have not been identified yet, however.
The Dispatch is waiting to hear from Sgt. Chad Gallacinao with the Gilroy Police Department for possible updates on the incident.
After watching the footage alongside GPD Officer Mark Tarasco, Enriquez describes two Hispanic women in their mid-20s hanging around her car at 10:20 a.m. Aug. 8. One points to the keys on the hood before walking away.
Just before 10:40 a.m., the footage shows a different Hispanic female in her mid-20s getting into the car and taking off, according to Enriquez.
It’s “pretty obvious” the first two women discovered the easy opportunity to steal the car, then found someone else with the gall to actually do it, Enriquez suspects.
After her car went missing, Enriquez said she combed every street and alley in Gilroy. With black a paint job, save for the gray hood, this particular Aurora is easily distinguishable. The license plate number is 6SHU531.
Enriquez says she is offering a reward of $300 to anyone who is able to locate her car.
“Whoever has it, if they can even make an anonymous call and say, ‘this is where your car is,’ I wouldn’t really care at this point,” she said. ‘I just want my car back.”
In the meantime, she’s relying on her bike and rides from friends and family to get to and from her three jobs.
Enriquez recently moved back to Gilroy from Sacramento. She grew up in Hollister, “but my heart is in Gilroy,” she said.
Her mother, Sandy Moretti, owns Sandy’s Café.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time someone has hijacked a car belonging to Enriquez.
Someone broke into her vehicle and stole it seven years ago when Enriquez was living in Hollister, she said. The car was found burnt to a crisp on a rural backroad. A tow company then charged Enriquez $1,700 in fees to dispose of the vehicle’s charred remains.
“I didn’t think that karma comes back to you,” she said. “But I don’t understand, because I don’t feel I deserve this.”
Enriquez can be reached via email. Contact her at [email protected]