Volkswagen recently addressed a “serious breach” of company policy after a representative declined a sheriff’s office’s emergency request for the GPS location of a vehicle with an abducted toddler inside.
According to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office in Illinois, detectives reached out to Volkswagen’s Car-Net service to obtain the GPS location of a stolen vehicle after a woman called 9-1-1 to report that her SUV had been carjacked while her child was in it, during a terrifying incident in which the mother was also run over with her own car.
However, a representative for Car-Net refused to provide detectives with the vehicle’s GPS coordinates until a $150 fee was paid to reactivate the service.
Deputy Chief Chris Covelli said the child was fortunately found shortly after and was unharmed, but he blamed Volkswagen for delaying investigators during the time-sensitive case.
Later, Volkswagen admitted that the representative failed to follow policy guidelines.
“Volkswagen has a procedure in place with a third-party provider for Car-Net Support Services involving emergency requests from law enforcement. They have executed this process successfully in previous incidents,” VW spokesperson Mark Gillies wrote in an email.
“Unfortunately, in this instance, there was a serious breach of the process. We are addressing the situation with the parties involved,” Gillies added.
According to the sheriff’s office, the victim was a 34-year-old mother of two. After driving to her residence near Libertyville, she brought one of her children into her house and then returned for her 2-year-old son.
When she came back outside, a BMW sedan pulled into the driveway and a man exited the passenger side of the vehicle. He then attempted to enter the woman’s 2021 VW Atlas SUV. The mother struggled with the man until he knocked her to the ground and proceeded to drive away with the vehicle. He also ran over the victim, who was pregnant at the time. She suffered several broken bones but managed to call 9-1-1.
“There was no regard for her or her child, even though she was screaming that her child was in the car,” Covelli told the Lake County News-Sun.
Covelli said a sheriff’s detective immediately contacted the company for emergency location assistance, as he was familiar with VW’s Car-Net system. However, he was told the service could not help until the fee was paid to reactivate the expired account.
Sixteen minutes after police were first contacted, the BMW and the stolen car drove into a parking lot of a business in Waukegan. There, the child was released from the vehicle. A woman at the business witnessed the event and thankfully brought the child to safety. At the same time, a relative of the victim made the payment to reactive the Car-Net account.
However, Covelli said the delay — which he described as “16 minutes of hell” — rendered that information useless.
The mother was treated at a hospital for broken bones and was in stable condition.
“She sustained very serious injuries, and was able to do a great job of articulating to dispatchers what had happened, and what they needed to know,” Covelli said.
Police later recovered the stolen VW in a parking lot.
Investigators are still looking for the BMW used by the carjackers, which was reported stolen from a Waukegan dealership earlier that week.