WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) – Some Kansas families were able to turn the federal government’s pandemic stimulus check into the break they needed to get back on their feet. But for one Wichita couple that break turned into a nightmare last week that could cost them everything.
Shellie and Humberto Rodriguez saw their federal stimulus check as the chance to do something they badly needed, buying a car.
“We spent our entire stimulus check getting on our feet,” said Shellie Rodriguez. “You know? To get a car and do the right thing.”
She works two jobs, he’s on disability with a serious speech disorder but still works as many hours a week as he can.
The purchase price of the white ’92 Honda Accord, repairing the breaks, and registering the car took everything they had. But it meant access to stable employment for both of the Rodriguezes.
Just weeks later someone stole their locked car out of the parking lot on their first night in a new apartment.
“Who’s going to think your car’s going to get taken 10 feet from your front door the first night you move in?” Shellie asked.
The couple says the car was nothing special, except to them.
“Oh, it made all the difference in the world. The bus system is just not good here… It’s just not. He’s got doctor’s appointments,” she said.
The loss for Shellie and Humberto more than just four wheels and an engine. Without that car, neither can get to work. Shellie works as a bartender in Wichita, that job currently shutdown by Covid-19 precautions. Her other job is all the way in Kingman.
“It’s too far to even take a bus. We have to drive there,” she said of the Kingman job. As for her bartending, “I get off at 2 o’clock in the morning. There’s no buses at 2 o’clock in the morning.”
These are jobs the Rodriguezes say they need to keep their home.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Honda accords, especially older ones like the Rodriguez’s without modern security features, are some of the most commonly stolen cars in the United States.
With its age the couple only had liability insurance on the car, which means no insurance money to replace it now.
While they’ve reported the theft to police, they say their best bet is if someone in the public recognizes the car and helps get it back to them.
“Have a heart, give it back. Leave it somewhere, leave it at the police station parking lot. Bring it back,” Shellie pleaded, her voice breaking at the end. “Give it back. You don’t need it.”