Woman accidentally 'steals' Subaru, brings it back with apology note and gas money

(INSIDE EDITION)- As it turns out, it was not grand theft auto, but merely a case of mistaken identity.

Erin Hatzi's 2001 red Subaru vanished from her Portland, Ore., driveway Tuesday night. So she reported it stolen.

"We were pretty angry and astounded that the car was taken directly from our driveway," she told InsideEdition.com.

The couple's home security camera captured a woman calmly walking up to the car, getting in and starting it up. After a few minutes, she drove away.

Less than 24 hours later, the red vehicle was back, parked in front of the couple's house. Portland Police Department officers just happened to be driving by and noticed the car and ran its plates.


The cops stopped a woman who was walking away from the car. And then things got very interesting and very funny.

The poor woman explained that she had come the day before to pick up her friend's car, a 2001 red Subaru, that she'd never driven before. She was helping her friend move into an assisted living facility.

She parked the car at her friend's house, but the friend didn't see it until the next morning.

And that's when she realized it wasn't her Subaru.

Inside the "stolen" vehicle police found $30 in cash and a note:

"Hello, So sorry I stole your car. I sent my friend with my key to pick up my red Subaru at 7802 SE Woodstock and she came back with your car. I did not see the car until this morning and I said, 'That is not my car.' There is some cash for gas and I more than apologize for the shock and upset this must have caused you. If you need to speak further, with me, I am ******* and my number is ..........So so sorry for this mistake."

Hatzi said she and her husband didn't believe the explanation at first.

But "the police read the note and watched the security footage, and everything checked out," she said.

Police department spokesman Pete Simpson called the whole thing "an innocent and honest mistake."

Some older model Subarus and Hondas, he said, can be started with keys from similar models. The key ridges wear down over time and the ignition wears down, so it can be easy to start the car with the wrong key, he said.

And that's what happened in this case.

The police "were very amused," Hatzi said. "As are we. Now, anyway."