At about 5:20 p.m., on Mothers Day (May 13), four San Diego Police Department patrol vehicles pulled up in front of Michael’s at the Westfield Mission Valley mall.
The police officers exited their vehicles, passed Michael’s on the left and Starbucks to the right, then proceeded into the mall.
One officer stayed back by the patrol cars, and couldn’t say what was going on, but he did refer me to his sergeant who was posted up with another squad car out by the entrance to the parking lot by Camino De La Reina.
Via email police spokesman Joshua Hodge explained what was happening: “It was a LoJack stolen vehicle [that] was located [there],” he said.
“All the mothers and their kids were calm,” said Jane, a Michael’s employee that wanted her name changed for the story. “I thought their K9s were barking at me (from inside the vehicles) and then I saw the lil’ chihuahua and the owner walk by.
“While the policemen looked for the suspect in our store,” Jane said, “I was helping one of the mothers with a handprint keepsake set.”
At Starbucks, across the way, I noticed two women sipping on their drinks and pointing at the patrol cars. “Let’s go that way,” said one of them as they scuffled the opposite direction towards Macy’s.
“I had to remain calm,” said a male barista manning the counter. “And I was contemplating on locking up but I didn’t want my customers to panic.”
There were a handful of shoppers sitting on the benches and tables in between Nordstrom’s and Michael’s (where the giant Christmas tree and train tracks usually are in December) that didn’t seem concerned by the police presence.
“One of the vendors from outside came in and said ‘he (the suspect) was supposedly armed,’ but that information might not be accurate and I remained calm as more customers kept walking in.”
Hodge said “No one was taken in to custody [and] the vehicle was recovered.”
According to the LoJack website: “The LoJack product is a battery operated, stolen vehicle recovery system that helps law enforcement to track and recover your stolen vehicle. A LoJack unit is hidden in your vehicle by a certified technician and your vehicle is registered in the LoJack database. When you file a stolen vehicle report with law enforcement and the theft is recorded in the national stolen vehicle database, law enforcement computers send a silent radio signal to your car. If your vehicle is within a LoJack coverage area, the LoJack transceiver in your stolen vehicle can be automatically activated, allowing law enforcement to track and recover your vehicle.”
In 2017, California was listed as the top state for recovered vehicles using the $695-$995 LoJack systems. The Honda Civic and Accord tops “the most recovered vehicle models” list, followed by the Toyota Camry and Corolla.