A family's ordinary day turned into a nightmare when their car was violently stolen with their 2-year-old son still inside. The family is now suing Volkswagen for allegedly refusing to assist the police in tracking the stolen vehicle due to an expired GPS service subscription, leading to a delayed rescue of the kidnapped child.
Taylor Shepherd, 34, pregnant at the time, had just returned from a pet store visit and was unloading her children and dogs. As she went back to retrieve her 2-year-old son, Isaiah, from the car, two carjackers ambushed her in her driveway, attacking her and fleeing with the car. Shepherd, left with severe injuries including tire tracks on her stomach, recalled the horror, saying, "So they ran over my entire left side of my body. There were tire tracks all over the left side of my stomach."
In a desperate attempt to locate Isaiah, Shepherd contacted the police, who then reached out to Volkswagen. The car was equipped with Volkswagen's "Car-Net" GPS tracking software, which could pinpoint the vehicle's location. However, the police were reportedly informed that Shepherd's free trial had expired, and a payment of $150 was required to activate the service.
Greg Koutelidakis, Isaiah's father, expressed his disbelief at Volkswagen's response, "It kind of boggled my mind, to be honest with you. I couldn't understand it." Similarly, Deputy Chief Chris Covelli from the Lake County Sheriff's Office was stunned by the carmaker's stance, “This is an abducted 2-year-old, and the response was there is nothing they can do this is their policy."
After what seemed like an eternity, Isaiah was found walking near a highway, 15 minutes away from the abduction site, unharmed but undoubtedly traumatized. The family's car was located shortly after, while the perpetrators remain at large.
The traumatic ordeal has left lasting scars on the family. "Nightmares," Shepherd shared, revealing that the entire family has been attending therapy sessions.
In the aftermath, Volkswagen reportedly began offering complimentary Car-Net services for five years on select models. However, the family states that they have not received any personal outreach from the company.
Volkswagen, in a statement released in March, referred to the incident as a "process failure." Yet, the family's attorney, Gerald Bekkerman, criticizes this as a clear instance of "corporate greed putting profits over people."
The family's legal action against Volkswagen for negligence and emotional distress highlights a critical issue of corporate responsibility and the moral obligation to prioritize human lives over financial policies.