updated 5/4/2007 10:03:54 PM ET 2007-05-05T02:03:54

York Heiden is one unlucky crime victim — his car was stolen twice in one day.

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Even he can't believe it.

"Everyone says, 'You shouldn't have left it,'" Heiden said, laughing. "But I know, I know ... So many what-ifs: I shouldn't have done this, I should have taken the tire off."

According to Heiden, here's what happened:

His pearl-colored 1990 Audi Quattro was stolen from a grocery store parking lot April 27 while his wife was running errands. The keys were left in it.

Heiden, who owns River West Motorwerks, an automotive repair shop, quickly called some friends and the car was found about a block from the grocery store. The keys were gone.

After removing a bag of pet food, some pieces of mail and other personal items from the car, Heiden told a friend to disable the car's ignition. The mechanic removed a coil wire, evidently forgetting the car had a two-coil system.

Police were told the stolen car had been found and Heiden, 36, left to pick up a spare key.

With only four of the car's eight cylinders disabled, the car still was mobile enough to be stolen a second time, apparently by the same thief, Heiden said.

It was right here ...
"I was speechless," Heiden said, recalling how he stood where the car had been found, keys dangling from his fingers, the emotional high of finding the car dashed. "All I could do was hold the key up in my hand and look at it."

His friend reacted differently. "He busted out laughing," Heiden said. "I just said, 'Take me home.'"

Heiden got a call Wednesday, saying police found the car — a rare version worth at least $4,000 because it had a V-8 engine — after a parts supplier spotted it in the same neighborhood. A headlight and a piece of interior trim were broken.

What lesson did Heiden learn from his ordeal?

"Don't leave your keys in the ignition," he said. "And if you find it, do not leave it."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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