With her daughter ill in Texas, Pam Buck was in a hurry to leave the morning of June 17.
"I was shocked. It took me a few seconds to realize what happened," Buck told The Brazil Times about the theft of her blue Mercury Cougar that was parked next to her backdoor. "Then I became sick and almost fell to the ground crying. No words can really explain what I felt at that moment."
The Brazil City Police Department is looking for suspects alleged to be involved in three stolen vehicles from June 17-19, one of which was Buck's, where the owners left keys inside.
Buck admits to leaving the key in her car, but only because it was damaged and difficult to get out of the ignition.
"I tried to get a new one made, but it was for an electric ignition and was going to cost me $250," Buck said. "That was more than I had, so I left it there until I could afford a new one."
Buck is surprised by the efficiency of the criminals who took her car.
"My neighbors didn't hear a thing and their bedroom is right next to where my car was parked," Buck said. "My dog Daisy didn't hear anything either and she knows the sound of my car. For a dog not to bark, they had to be pretty good at what they were doing."
Because of the theft, Buck's daughter had to take a three-day bus ride to come home.
"It's such a horrible feeling knowing your child needs you and you can't be there for them," she said. "My daughter is home and feeling better, but this has affected me really badly. I feel like they took my self worth, and my dignity, when they did this to me. No one has a right to violate a person, their home or take their possessions."
Recovered in a wooded area near Turner two days later by the Brazil City Police Department, Buck said she still owes money on the car. And, with only liability insurance coverage, she cannot afford to make the necessary repairs so she can use it.
"I was amazed when I read about what officials consider minor damages in the paper. Yes, I have the car back, but we keep finding more wrong with it," Buck said. "Whoever stole it tore up the dashboard when they took the stereo. The battery was dead, but when we put in a new one it wouldn't even try to start. The electrical system is messed up and they apparently bottomed out the car when they were driving it. Plus the front end is damaged. I'm afraid to have anyone else look at it for fear they will find something else wrong. "
Buck said the financial cost, including her daughter's bus ticket, the loss of the vehicle until it can be repaired, towing fees, damage estimates and other pop-up expenses, continues to grow daily.
"I would like to get restitution, but I don't know how is that going to happen when everyone seems to be living paycheck to paycheck," Buck said. "It's almost certain whoever did this is living that way too."
Buck, a Cloverleaf Nursing Home Certified Nursing Assistant, is upset about her missing personal possessions.
"They took a work bag with my equipment and little stuff inside I buy for residents, like toiletries," she said. "Why would anyone want that?"
Personal papers, money, the vehicle registration and CDs were also taken, adding to the financial and emotional cost for Buck.
"What really upsets me most is they took a picture off my dashboard of me with my children and the license plate off the front with my children's names on it," she said. "Didn't they do enough to me by taking my car? Why do they need something like that? You can't possibly sell it for anything. I just want to know why?"
Battling the emotional rollercoaster a victim of crime faces, Buck says she has no explanation for why anyone would target her.
"I go to work, visit family and friends and I walk my dog. As far as I know, I don't have any enemies, but I admit to feeling paranoid since this happened," Buck said, as she fought back tears pooling in her eyes. "It's hard to talk about this with others, to be around people. I go out in public, look around at people and wander, did you do this to me?"
Although she might have left the key in the ignition of her car, Buck said the theft has caused her to realize there are people who do not care about the rights of others.
"I believe people have the right to own property and keep it in their yards, but that's not good enough anymore," she said. "The whole community needs to be vigilant, but it has to start in the neighborhoods. We, as neighbors, have to look out for each other sometimes."