JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A local woman on Thursday told News4Jax that her gun was stolen from her car at the Mercedes-Benz of Orange Park.
The customer said she went to the dealership on Blanding Boulevard for a car wash.
Upon getting her keys back, she said, she got into her car and noticed her gun and spare key to her home were no where in sight.
"The first thing I do is check for my firearm. I opened my center console, and it's gone," she said. "I reached out to the person that I initially gave my keys to and I'm, like, 'Hey ... You left someone's keys in my car, but my firearm is misplaced, or it's gone.'"
The woman said a supervisor checked pockets and lockers of everyone who worked on her car, yet nothing turned up.
Hours later, she said, the gun was found behind the dealership building in an employee's backpack.
The general manager of Mercedes-Benz of Orange Park on Thursday sent the following statement to News4Jax, saying the incident was reported to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office:
"Fields Auto Group takes these matters very seriously. (The customer) left her gun in an unlocked compartment of her vehicle when it was out of her control at the dealership. As soon as she notified us that the gun was missing, we contacted the Jacksonville police department, who conducted an investigation. The gun was recovered by the police and immediately returned to (the customer). The employee suspected of having removed the gun from (the customer's) vehicle is no longer with the company. Further, we have reiterated our existing policy regarding weapons found in vehicles with our staff. The customer demanded that the dealership pay off her lease due to her inconvenience. We have declined."
Later Thursday evening, the customer contacted News4Jax and said she wanted her lease to be terminated after the customer service she received. According to the dealership, to terminate a lease means that the dealership would have to pay off the lease for a customer.
"I have purchased two cars from Fields within the last year and a half and I feel like I'm stuck paying to a company that does not value you as a customer," she said.
News4Jax asked the dealership's manager what employees should do if they find a gun unsecured in a car, and she replied, "They are to inform the manager immediately, and then the customer is asked to remove the weapon from their vehicle."
The customer in this case said she would have never expected her belongings to be stolen in the first place. She said, "I really wish that there was some way I didn't even have to do business with Fields anymore."
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said that for the employee to have been charged with a crime, it's up to the victim to press charges, not the company.
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