Continuing a trend, Ludacris’ Mercedes stolen after keys left inside

Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, 43, was the latest high-profile victim of a car theft in Atlanta after leaving his vehicle running while visiting an ATM.

Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez

Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez

Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, 43, was the latest high-profile victim of a car theft in Atlanta after leaving his vehicle running while visiting an ATM.

In a sign of the times, actor and rapper Ludacris had his Mercedes-Benz stolen Monday after he left the key inside during a trip to the ATM, Atlanta police said.

The 43-year-old star, whose real name is Chris Bridges, notified police of the theft about 4:40 p.m. and officers were able to electronically track the car to the parking lot for the Spectrum on Spring apartment complex in Midtown. The vehicle was then recovered and returned to the owner.

Ludacris is the latest celebrity to have a car stolen that way in Atlanta, but this type of car theft is actually incredibly common.

Between Jan. 1 and Saturday night, the Atlanta Police Department received 372 calls for stolen cars, with 245 of those involving the victim leaving the car running or keys in the car, according to agency spokesman Sgt. Jarius Daugherty.

“Keys left in the car are pretty much driving car thefts,” he said.

Other Atlanta celebrities have suffered similar crimes.

Tyrese Gibson, an actor and Bridges’ costar in the “Fast and Furious” movie franchise, had his Range Rover stolen from the driveway of his Buckhead home after leaving the key fob in the cupholder in late December. His car was recovered within hours.

Sara Blakely, the billionaire founder of Atlanta-based Spanx, also had her Range Rover stolen after leaving the key fob in the center console after parking at her office in January 2020, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.

Now a popular feature on many new cars, keyless ignition was introduced in luxury cars in the late 1990s, according to Edmunds. The keyless design is intended to make cars more difficult to steal, thanks to the lack of a physical ignition switch that can be bypassed or forced.

However, the keyless design is so easy to use, it can slip through the cracks in psychological terms. With the key usually in a pocket or purse, and modern engines running at such quiet volumes, it’s easy to forget that the car is still turned on.

Even when they do remember to turn the car off, people often set their key fob in the console and forget to grab it when they get out. On many cars, the doors won’t lock while the key remains inside, so people have little fear of locking themselves out.

Last week, 96 cars were stolen in the City of Atlanta and 67 of those vehicles were left running or had keys left inside...

Posted by City of Atlanta Police Department on Wednesday, January 13, 2021

These forgetful moments have real-world consequences: More than 65% of car thefts reported to Atlanta police this year are the result of keys being left in cars. More than 10 cars are reported stolen in the city every day thanks to keys being left carelessly inside. According to Daugherty, this trend has been steadily increasing in recent years.

Responding to all of those stolen car calls is a major burden on a police department already stretched thin.

“If people would quit leaving their cars running, we’d be able to allocate our resources elsewhere,” Daugherty said.

According to the police report, Ludacris flagged down an officer Monday and said his 2020 Mercedes-Benz S63 was stolen at 8th and Peachtree streets after he got out and left the engine running. He said he was tracking it with his iPad and that it had been in the same place for several minutes.

An officer eventually found the iPad inside a parked Hyundai SUV on Lois Place. Also found inside were multiple designer bags, one of which was a black Louis Vuitton bag that belonged to the rapper, and his laptop. Police discovered that a Gucci bag and iPhone found in the SUV had been reported stolen during a car break-in Saturday in the 1000 block of Howell Mill Road.

The stolen Mercedes was then found backed into a parking spot at the Spectrum on Spring apartment complex, according to police. The head of Ludacris’ security team picked up the vehicle after the scene was processed.

The incident report noted that there were cameras at the ATM location that might have captured footage of the incident. No arrests have been made, police said.