Trisha Bragg woke up early on a Saturday morning, looked outside, and saw that her parking spot was empty.
At first, she thought it was a prank.
When it was time to get ready to leave for work, she had a sinking feeling her car was stolen.
"It was pretty devastating. You feel kinda hopeless like, you know, there's nothing you can do. You just gotta wait on the police," said Bragg.
Eventually, she did hear from police. Her 1991 Grand AM was found 100 miles away, abandoned along I-44 in Fenton. Saint Louis County Police recovered the car, had it towed, and impounded.
County Police sent a certified letter to Bragg and notified Salem Police about the recovery of one of their vehicles.
Once Bragg was notified and contacted the tow yard to inquire about picking up her car, she learned she owed the tow yard $165 for the tow and daily storage fees.
Bragg says she surprised that the victim of a crime would have to pay.
County Police spokesman, Officer Rick Eckhard, says it's not up to county tax payers to pay the tow bill. He says that while he sympathizes with crime victims, the tow bill has to be paid either by the victim or the victim's insurance company.
Bragg says she only had liability coverage on her 1991 Grand AM.
Though Bragg has her car back now, it no longer runs. She says the thief or thieves blew out the motor.
Bragg also found clothing, tools, and other items in the car that did not belong to her. She says she pointed that out to Salem Police and officers agreed to have the items fingerprinted.
Bragg says the entire process left her feeling frustrated.
She also wanted to pass on another important lesson: never leave your car unlocked. Bragg says she thought her neighborhood was safe and left her car unlocked with her keys tucked into the console.
"Don't trust anyone. I live in a pretty nice neighborhood and to wake up and find my car was gone, it was pretty devastating."