A Mother’s message: Lock your car doors!

Posted at 11:58 PM, Jan 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-11 05:46:57-05

IONIA, Mich. -- Frances Castillo says it wasn’t much, but her van meant everything to her family.

She said, “That’s my whole life, my kids are my life and that’s our main way of transportation.”

Earlier this week Castillo was leaving work at Ventra Ionia Main, an auto parts maker, when she couldn’t seem to find her van.

“I was dumbfounded. I know I parked here. We circled the parking lot. I thought maybe it’s a joke, I don’t know.”

When she realized it wasn’t a joke, she called police.

Lt. Andrew Bucholtz with the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office said deputies were dispatched to car on fire on Olmstead Road near Stone Road, north of Muir. When they arrived, that car was engulfed in flames.

That vehicle  turned out to be Castillo’s.

She admits it was a mistake to leave her keys in the van that night, but that doesn’t excuse what happened. “Thieves come in, and they take more than just money and property, possessions," she said. "They take your trust. It’s a double blow.”

Castillo was just two payments away from paying off her vehicle. She hopes her heartbreak can be a warning for everyone else.

The Ionia County Sheriff's Office tells FOX 17 there was another stolen vehicle recovered around the same time as Castillo's.

If you know anything about either case, call Silent Observer at 616-527-0107.