Stolen car ruins holiday for Starke man

Man loses Christmas presents, wallet, jewelry

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – It's a Christmas one Starke man will surely not forget, but for all the wrong reasons.

Dustin Hughes' car was stolen a little less than a week ago. His car was found at the intersection of Pall Mall and San Jose. All of his newly bought Christmas gifts were in the car, along with his wallet with cash and cards.

Hughes said his car had been totaled and everything inside that was of value was gone, including an item he holds very close to his heart -- a necklace that belonged to his mother that she gave to him before she passed away a year and a half ago.

"What I was thinking was I'd do anything in the world to get my stuff back," Hughes said.

He came out of his house only to find his car wasn't there, and his wallet with cash and cards and his Christmas gifts were inside. He called police and immediately checked his bank statement to see if any transactions had been made. That's how he got his first lead -- a transaction made at a gas station in Green Cove Springs.

"I drove over there to see if the gas station would have footage of whoever stole my car, running the card, but there was 20 minutes of film missing from the cameras, security cameras watching the pumps -- it was the 20 minutes that they ran my card," Hughes said.

He said he drove around Green Cove Springs for hours, searching apartment complexes and neighborhoods for the Prius which had a very distinctive black bumper on the front. Then he saw it.

Two minutes later he said the two people in the car realized they were being followed, and that's when Dustin said a chase began for nearly 30 miles.

Hughes said they ended up on a road in Palatka. They drove down, but realized it was a dead end. One guy got out and the other made a U-turn. He drove into the grass just to get around Hughes.

The one man was questioned and eventually the car was found totaled in Jacksonville. Shortly after that, the driver was found by police. But what hasn't been found yet is Hughes' Christmas gifts, wallet and his mother's necklace.

"Anything that was worth anything was taken from the car," Hughes said. "All of those things can be replaced, but my mother's necklace that was the one thing I'm hoping we can eventually get back."