Funnel cake, a ride on the lazy river and carefree fun were on Barbara Underhill’s mind when she, her husband and grandson loaded up her Toyota Highlander on Monday and headed south for an overdue beach vacation.
Their destination: Myrtle Beach, where Underhill, 63, said she hasn’t visited since college.
On the way from their home in Charlotte, they stopped in Rock Hill at the Hardee’s at the Antrim shopping plaza off Dave Lyle Boulevard. It was about 4:30 p.m.
After eating, Underhill and her family returned to their car and found “glass all over the place.” The passenger’s side window of Underhill’s car was shattered and several of her valuables stolen.
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Police say the culprit used a yellow tent stake to break Underhill’s car window before grabbing her purse, with her ID, debit cards and Samsung Galaxy Note mobile phone, according to a Rock Hill Police report. Initially, the family reported that her grandson’s Playstation Vita video games also were gone.
“He was devastated at first,” Underhill said, adding that her grandson took the hand-held game console into the restaurant with him but left his games, secured in a case, in the car. “He looked in (the car) and couldn’t find (the games). He immediately went into hysterics.”
After police left and the family got back into their car, the boy found his games unscathed. But Underhill can’t say the same for her window and electronics.
“You would think that somebody who had done ... things like this before,” she said. “Hopefully, they can find him.”
The incident was captured on Hardee’s’ security cameras, which show the thief driving a white Chevrolet sport utility vehicle with rims. Using a yellow tent stake, the suspect breaks Underhill’s window, jumps through the passenger’s side window and takes the valuables before fleeing.
The video was not available to the media Tuesday.
Police estimate damage to the car at $200.
Underhill said employees at Hardee’s were “extremely responsive,” adding that the general manager thought she saw a car matching the suspect’s vehicle at the nearby Target on Springsteen Road and waited there until someone walked to the car.
“That was really nice,” Underhill said. “They were really concerned.”
Still, Underhill doubts she’ll patronize that Hardee’s again.
The restaurant is located in what police have identified as a hotspot for car thefts and break-ins, according to a 2013 Rock Hill Police Department crime analysis report. Last year, vehicle break-ins spiked in the city, the report shows, with the most activity concentrated near Interstate 77. The area surrounding the Rock Hill Galleria ranked among the highest concentration for car break-ins in the city, followed by nearby Manchester Village and Crosspointe Square.
Underhill and her husband, she said, haven’t been on a vacation in years. “I needed to just get away and not have to think about anything,” said Underhill, who does publicity for nonprofit organizations. “I just wanted to go be a kid again.”
Now, instead, she has phone calls with insurance companies and no vacation.
“It’ll all work out,” she said. “The first thing that came to my mind, there’s a reason we’re not supposed to go. I don’t know what that is. Patience, maybe ... learning how to deal with disappointment.”
“Like I told my grandson,” she added, “these are material things. It can be replaced, but people can’t.”