Thief stole more than a jeep from a Marietta woman visiting DecaturPhoto by Dan Whisenhunt
This story has been updated.
Diane Thiel-Sharp had just finished dining out in Decatur on March 1 when she returned to the parking deck at 200 East Ponce de Leon Ave. to retrieve her 1999 Jeep Wrangler.
But the Marietta woman’s vehicle was gone.
The thief took more from her than it might appear. Thiel-Sharp said that Jeep was a birthday gift from her late husband Kevin, who died in a car accident in 2005. It was actually meant as a surprise.
“It was just a week before my 45th birthday and little did I know, he had purchased the jeep and had held it in storage waiting for the birthday party he was planning that weekend,” Thiel-Sharp said in a Facebook message shared with Decaturish. “You see, when we were in high school I saw a girl driving a white jeep and decided then that girls and jeeps are an incredibly cool combination. I told Kevin but never really thought I would ever get to be one of those cool girls. I was 16 and he was 17. We married and started our life as young struggling musicians. Life moved on, our beautiful kids were born and I forgot about my little dream. Material things have just never been that important to me. But…Kevin held on to my teenage dream long after I had let go of it and had apparently decided that one day he would get me that jeep. Somehow he did…28 years later.”
Thiel-Sharp said she got the key to the jeep a day after Kevin’s funeral, wrapped in a little box.
“I was surrounded by my dearest friends and family,” she said. “Some of whom had driven hundreds of miles to be with us when they got the news of Kevin’s death. We all went out to the parking lot and there it was, complete with a huge bow he had bought for the occasion. It is still hard to put into words what that meant to me.”
Thiel-Sharp called the police after she discovered the vehicle was missing. Decatur Police arrived at the parking deck around 10 pm.
“The reporting officer canvassed the area and located a parking deck arm laying in the middle of the exit driveway,” Decatur Police Sgt. Jennifer Ross said. “The parking deck arm had no visible damage. However, the nuts and bolts, which are used to affix the parking arm to the control box, had been removed and were found on the ground.”
The vehicle is described as a white, 1999 Jeep Wrangler with a black hard top displaying Georgia prestige license plate “GTRZ2” and a front license plate shaped like a guitar.
Thiel-Sharp has driven it for 10 years. She said the jeep is, “A little run down. The rag top I use in the summer ripped beyond use two years ago. I have had the transmission replaced but I have said many times that I will be the 85 year-old climbing into her cool jeep, even if I need help.”
Now she needs help finding her vehicle. She said it’s been an important part of helping her cope with her husband’s death.
“I’m hopeful it will be found even if it’s been vandalized, but I learned a long time ago how important it is to tuck treasures safe in my heart where no one can ever steal them,” she wrote.