ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) - A local veteran says he just wanted to see his doctor at the VA hospital. Instead, he left with a horrible headache after his brand-new car was stolen from the VA’s valet service.
Veteran Fred Wilson treated himself to a new car not too long ago, a brand-new Chevy Impala. He never imagined what would happen just two weeks after he got it.
“How could you just walk up and allow someone to take a veteran's car?” Wilson said.
Wilson served his country, but now needs services from the VA hospital in St. Louis.
“I have to go a lot, because I have a lot of physical ailments, I injured my foot real bad,” he said.
Parking is at a premium around the hospital, even still Fred says he never uses the valet service. But earlier this month, he made a decision.
“This particular day, I was running late for an appointment and I figured, ‘Well okay, I guess I'll use the valet service.’ Oops, wrong answer,” he said.
After his appointment, he found out his car wasn't there, because it had been stolen.
“He said he saw a guy walk up to the car, get in and drive off,” Fred said.
Fred couldn't believe it.
“My car was in the hands of a supposedly good service, so I felt good about that,” he said.
Two weeks later, police found his car in north St. Louis. The windows had been tinted, the door damaged and it was empty.
“My personal belongings in this car, they emptied out. They even have my house keys,” said Fred.
He wants to know how this could have happened to him.
Fred showed News 4 the process. When you pull up to the valet, they ask you to roll down your window and leave the keys on the dash.
You get a ticket, which you're supposed to redeem after your appointment. But clearly that didn't occur.
"There is nothing to stop him from driving off with that car, nothing to stop anyone from driving off with a car,” Wilson said.
In the meantime, he says he's gotten nowhere.
“I haven't gotten any apologies from you guys, from the company,” he said.
But when News 4 called the VA, that's exactly what he got.
A spokesperson said they sincerely apologize for what happened to Fred saying, "Certainly we sympathize and don't want that to happen."
They said they are working with the third-party company Parking Veterans that provides the valet service to address the issue.
That company never returned our repeated requests for comment.
Fred wants the VA to make them follow the proper procedures to ensure they aren't just giving away cars, and in the meantime, he's still waiting for justice.
“I'd rather give it to you, don't take it,” he said.
No one has been arrested or charged for taking Fred’s car.
Through a records request, News 4 checked the police records. Though they receive dozens of calls at the VA for incidents such as a hold up and destruction of property, it doesn't appear there have been other vehicle thefts from the VA’s valet service.
Still, Fred wants his situation to be a warning to others.