Each campaign season brings its sign swindlers. But San Jose City Council candidate Jenny Higgins Bradanini had to deal with that and then some.
The District 10 contender walked out of her Almaden Valley home Saturday morning to find her white 2013 Range Rover SUV missing—and all the “Vote Jenny” lawn signs and banners stored therein. “It’s crazy,” she says. “I was looking around going, ‘Wait, did I let someone borrow my car? Did I park it somewhere and don’t remember?’”
Turns out, whoever jacked her car went on to commit a gang-related drive-by shooting, according to San Jose police. She says a detective told her that SJPD fielded reports of her car driving erratically and getting involved in a hit-and-run. “So, if you happen to see ‘Vote Jenny’ fliers scattered across the freeway or an 8-foot ‘Vote Jenny for San Jose’ [banner], be sure to let me know,” she posted on Facebook over the weekend.
In a phone call with Fly Tuesday, Higgins Bradanini says police seemed flabbergasted about the incident, saying the suspects targeted a safe neighborhood and a vehicle make and model rarely targeted in auto thefts. How the thieves pulled it off remains a bit of a mystery, too, she says.
Police told her they believed the crooks hijacked her SUV’s signal because her key fob, which was in her purse upstairs by a window at the front of the house, was close enough to the car to start the engine. “Apparently, the law hasn’t kept up with the technology,” Higgins Bradanini says.
Though SJPD found her car by Tuesday, it remains in impound because whoever took it used it to commit another offense. For now, Higgins Bradanini says she’s getting around in a Ford Escort as she deals with her insurance company, which for some reason only covered $10 a day for a rental and nothing since police found her car—even though she can’t use it because it’s on lockdown.
For Higgins Bradanini, the whole days-long ordeal shook her to the core.
“My first reaction was disbelief, not because I see my neighborhood as immune, but because you don’t want to think it can be true, and we all keep so much of our lives in our vehicles,” she says. “From the initial police reports, this was a potential gang-related theft as my vehicle was supposedly used in a robbery and shooting. If it hadn’t been my vehicle, someone else’s would have been stolen for this crime.”
“I feel terrible that someone may have been harmed,” she adds, “but I’m motivated to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”