Tara Lazzari said she woke up just after 4 a.m. on Thursday to the sound of her dog barking at the window and spotted someone in her van parked in the driveway.
Using the van’s key fob, she locked the doors and hit the panic button to try and scare away whoever was outside.
“And then the next thing you know, the van started,” Lazzari said in an interview at her home in the Auden and Grange roads area on Friday.
She tried calling 911 but thinks her phone connected to the van’s Bluetooth audio system, which likely meant the police operator could be heard by those inside the van.
“I think they panicked,” Lazzari said, because it was at that point her 2016 red Dodge Caravan was being driven away.
Inside was her two kids’ ringette equipment and jerseys, her own equipment and other gear she uses as a coach and director of player and coaching development with the ringette association.
“It felt surreal because I can see my van leaving my driveway but I’m standing here,” she said.
“I was just in shock.”
The police eventually arrived and her roommate even attempted to follow the stolen van, but its whereabouts for a couple of hours was completely unknown.
“It was one of those things where it was 5 o’clock in the morning and all that went through my head is that there is no need to panic yet,” she said.
“I’ve got until later this afternoon before I have to start deciding what I do about equipment.”
The incident occurred during a busy weekend for her and her kids that featured three practices and four games. She estimates $1,000 worth of ringette equipment was stolen along with the van.
Lazzari said part of the calmness may have had something to do with the close-knit ringette community in Guelph.
“I know people would’ve banded together to help me out as much as we could have,” she said.
But thankfully the van and all of the equipment were found a couple hours later.
Guelph police said it was found blocking someone’s driveway in the area of York and Victoria roads.
It was a string of bad luck on Lazzari’s part, she admits. She may have forgotten to lock the van’s doors and didn’t think about removing a spare key in the centre console after warming it up earlier in the week.
But the lessons have been learned, Lazzari said.
“I think that’s the difference from 20 years ago when Guelph was a small city and now it’s growing much more, so it comes with the territory,” she said.
Guelph police are reminding the community to lock their vehicles, keep any valuables out of sight, and never leave a key inside the vehicle.
No arrests have been in the investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the lead investigator at 519-824-1212 ext. 7453. Anonymous tips can be left with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or through their website.