BATON ROUGE – Every morning, Donald Gelpi walks his wife from their apartment on LaSalle Avenue to her car. On Aug. 16, they were shocked by what they found.
“She went ‘ah’ and looked over at my car,” Gelpi said, imitating his wife gasping. “Right away I knew, you could just tell it was sitting on blocks.”
His car, a 2020 model, purchased earlier this year, was without its tires and rims.
“It’s selfish just to think you’re going to come over here and take rims and tires off of me,” Gelpi said. “And you may get a couple of hundred dollars for them, right?”
The damage done to his car, however, wasn’t limited to his tires.
“It creased my driver side door, so it left a big crease,” Gelpi said. “It also damaged the bottom paneling. It was over $2,500 worth of damage.”
Gelpi would not be the only person left with nowhere to go. The tireless thief also struck hours later, on Aug. 17, just steps down the street.
“I really didn’t even recognize my vehicle at first,” said one victim, who lives nearby and did not want to be identified. “I was like what’s wrong with that vehicle. Then as I took a few steps, it was like ‘oh my gosh’ my vehicle is just perched on these little garden stones that were taken from across the street.”
Like Gelpi’s car, this SUV was new. It still had a temporary license plate. It also had about $4,000 in damage. One security camera at the complex did manage to catch the likely thief, carrying what appear to be the stones used to prop up the vehicle.
“Those are material things,” she said. “But, the real thing is the sense of security that was taken. That has really been the loss for me.”
Baton Rouge Police do have the security footage and are reviewing it. In the meantime, the two victims are hoping none of their neighbors have a similar wake-up call.
“It’s just unfortunate,” Gelpi said. “You go through a range of emotions. You’re wondering who did it. You feel like your trust in humanity is debilitated for a second. “You just feel violated.”