Don’t leave a spare set of keys in your car when you lock it.
That’s one takeaway from the ironic series of events on Thursday, June 3 – when the high sheriff’s car was stolen from the parking lot in front of the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department headquarters.
The theft brought up a lot of questions – like, how did the thief get the car started? – and many of those questions were answered in a Friday, June 4 press release from the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department that states.
“At approximately, 4:42 p.m. on Thursday, June 3, 2021 the County-owned 2019 Chevrolet Tahoe issued to Sheriff Danny Rogers as his official use, work vehicle, was stolen from the Sheriff’s Office parking lot at 400 W. Washington, Street in Greensboro. This theft was the latest in a recent series of criminal activity in which both official and personal vehicles of Sheriff’s employees have been targeted while parked at the Sheriff’s Office during working hours. In this instance, Sheriff Rogers’ Tahoe was allegedly stolen on Thursday afternoon, June 3rd by thirty-two year-old, Jessica Gay Parks of Julian, North Carolina.”
It gets even more interesting. Parks, pictured above, had been booked into the Guilford County jail in downtown Greensboro at 11 a.m. that morning. Greensboro Police officers had taken her in for charges regarding an alleged theft of property from a local business.
So, what did she do right after getting booked into jail and being fortunate enough to be released with no bond required? Parks walked over to the Sheriff’s Department parking lot to try to break into cars.
According to the statement from the department, video from that day’s recordings shows Parks entering the Sheriff’s Department headquarters parking lot and trying unsuccessfully to break into several vehicles– including the chief deputy’s county-owned SUV and the personal vehicle of a civilian department employee.
Just before 2 p.m., the press release states, Parks approached Sheriff Rogers’ parked Chevrolet Tahoe. At that time, the sheriff’s vehicle was unoccupied and locked with the engine off. It’s not certain how Ms. Parks opened the vehicle, but, according to Sheriff’s Department officials, it appears as though a spare set of electronic car keys inside the vehicle “may have caused the doors to become unlocked when Parks pulled on one of the door handles.”
Fortunately, there were reportedly no firearms stored inside.
Here’s another bizarre part. After entering the Tahoe, Parks just sat there looking through the vehicle for about 2 hours and 45 minutes. That’s while it was parked in the law enforcement parking lot that deputies and others are constantly walking through all day long.
“Parks remained alone inside the Sheriff’s vehicle, rummaging through its contents, until approximately 4:42 p.m. when she activated the engine with the set of spare keys she found inside the vehicle,” the release stated. “She then drove the Tahoe out of the parking lot and turned left (east) onto West Washington Street.”
Rogers was in a long meeting with his commanding officers that afternoon, and, at about 5 p.m., he noticed the Tahoe he drives was nowhere to be found. At that point, Sheriff’s Department deputies and Greensboro Police officers began searching for the vehicle. A GPS device in the Tahoe led officers right to it and the vehicle was recovered about 30 minutes after the search began.
The Tahoe was found at a gas station on the 3200 block of West Gate City Boulevard about four miles away from the Sheriff’s Department’s headquarters. Parks, who was still in the vehicle – apparently she liked sitting in it when it was parked – was arrested and charged with felony theft of a motor vehicle and for other alleged offenses including resisting arrest.
That night, Parks was back in the jail in downtown Greensboro – but this time she was held on a $10,000 secured bond.