A Garland mother has been reunited with the ashes of her late daughter after thieves stole her vehicle with the ashes still inside.
Leah Daniels, a 29-year-old local from McKinney, was killed earlier this year in a hit-and-run incident in March when she was struck by a semi-truck on U.S. Highway 75, south of Legacy Drive in Plano. Law enforcement has since charged 55-year-old Richard Crockett Jr. of Sherman with a second-degree felony for failing to stop after an incident that resulted in a fatality, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
“The Lord loaned her to me for 29 years and the time was up,” said Karen Hoffman, Daniels’ mother, according to WFAA.
Daniels was later cremated, and her mother handpicked an urn for the remains.
Hoffman had been filling up her vehicle, a 2016 Volkswagen Jetta, with items inside from her storage unit in Garland before going to a hotel on October 31. On her way to the hotel, she stopped at a 7-Eleven convenience store near Centerville and Northwest Highway, leaving the vehicle running while she went inside because it was cold.
While she was inside the store, the Garland Police Department reported that surveillance video showed four persons getting inside her vehicle and driving away. Police found the vehicle two days later using Flock cameras and informed Hoffman, per WFAA.
A Flock camera system has also been implemented in Prosper to help mitigate crime, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
The vehicle was found with other belongings from the front and backseat of the car strewn around it. However, the thieves had left the trunk untouched, per WFAA. The urn, along with a gun that had been in the car, were both found still inside, reported NBC 5 DFW.
Hoffman is grateful to the police for quickly recovering her daughter’s ashes, per NBC 5.
The identities of the four suspects are currently unknown.
Motor vehicle theft has become rampant in DFW, particularly in Dallas. As of November 1, the city has seen more than a 40% increase in auto theft year over year, with 15,690 incidents logged in the Dallas Police Department’s crime analytics dashboard.
Not helping matters is that DPD is critically short-staffed, with Chief Eddie Garcia recently noting that he has only a dozen officers assigned to auto theft, which is currently the most prolific crime citywide.
Theft of vehicles is especially common in Downtown Dallas, with a study comparing its city center to Fort Worth’s finding that the former saw 91 auto thefts while the latter saw just two. Notably, Fort Worth’s downtown area is patrolled by a dedicated police unit working alongside private security guards.
Meanwhile, DPD is operating with around 3,100 officers despite a previous analysis estimating that Dallas would need about three officers for every 1,000 residents, or roughly 4,000.