PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — William Van Dusen just wanted to go fishing with his friends on Sunday.
Van Dusen, 24, said he left his truck running outside his house on E. Wilcox St. in Peoria when he ran in to grab his fishing poles.
Seconds later he came out of the house, but his truck was nowhere to be found.
“At first I couldn’t believe it, because its 1:30 in the afternoon in the middle of the day and there’s people outside everywhere,” he said. “I felt kinda violated, because it’s not the first time that I’ve had my truck broken into. This is definitely one of the more risky ones they pulled off.”
Police officers later found the stolen white GMC truck around 5:30 p.m. behind Big Lots on Sterling Avenue. It was technically in one piece, but very damaged.
“They went for a pretty good joy ride and they also took all the thread off my tires and balded them,” Van Dusen said.
A single father of three children under the age of five, Van Dusen said his kids’ car seats were stolen, along with newly purchased weed whackers and blowers for his new landscaping business.
“It’s a crime of opportunity. Whenever they go somewhere and see a vehicle running and no one in it, that’s when they are jumping in and just taking the vehicle,” said Detective Brian Terry, auto theft investigator at the Peoria Police Department.
Terry said it takes just 10 to 15 seconds to steal a car, and the act can be easily prevented.
“90% of auto theft can be prevented in this community simply by removing any spare keys from your vehicle, locking your vehicle, [and] securing your keys away from the vehicle,” Terry said.
Van Dusen said it will take a while to get over such a traumatic experience.
“Unfortunately after things like this, it takes quite some time, just because mentally you feel like they stole more than just physical things. They stole your safety and things like that,” he said.
Van Dusen said the estimated damage is between $5-6,000. He said insurance won’t cover anything because the truck wasn’t in the driveway and had keys in it when stolen.
For those interested in helping out, Van Dusen’s friend set up a Go-Fund-Me account.