Victim’s Voice: Single mom heartbroken after her car was stolen from her driveway

BATON ROUGE — A single mom is asking for the community’s help after her 2016 Dodge Dart was stolen from her driveway in Baton Rouge on Thursday afternoon.

The theft took place when Samantha Zavaleta, 29, briefly stepped away from her vehicle to go inside her home. Within minutes, she tells UWK that her car vanished, leaving her completely shocked.

“I came inside my house just to use the bathroom and get a bottle of water. I mean, I wasn’t even in my house for three minutes,” Samantha shared. “When I walked outside, my car was gone from my driveway.”

Car stolen from the driveway of Samantha Zavaleta in Baton Rouge

As a single mother of three kids, Samantha Zavaleta juggles multiple responsibilities: balancing work, home life and the universal Mom role as her kid’s chauffeur. She says the stolen car, a major asset in her daily routine, has added a significant burden to her already challenging circumstances as the only parent in the home.

The theft happened in a neighborhood off Old Hammond and Airline Highway on Thursday, June 20, around 2 p.m. Zavaleta reported the incident to Baton Rouge Police, whose officers are actively investigating the case. Meanwhile, Zavaleta is grappling with the implications of the theft.

“That was basically all I owned, my vehicle,” she said tearfully. “What I’m worried about now is they have every single personal information about me. I mean, I had pictures of my kids. I have three kids. I have two boys and one girl.”

Zavaleta, who moved here from Mexico at the age of three, says she has always had to work hard for everything she had. Having her first child at 17 years old, she has been working hard to make a life for her children without the help of their father.  

For Samantha Zavaleta and her kids, the loss of the car is far more than just losing a vehicle.

“That car had sentimental value. My brother passed away in 2020 in an accident. Before he passed away, he actually picked out that car for me and made sure that I had a car that was reliable,” she said. 

The car, which she relies on for commuting to work and transporting her young kids, is a 2016 gray Dodge Dart. The vehicle has a Texas license plate that reads, ‘NKD 3705.’

Zavaleta says she lives in Baton Rouge but works as a bartender in Watson, Louisiana. She is very grateful to her boss and work family who have been so empathetic and supportive.

“They’re very understanding. They basically told me, you know, don’t worry about it. Take the day off, your job is here,” she tells UWK.

Zavaleta said while she is grateful for help from police, she is really concerned about whether or not she’ll get her vehicle back.

“The officer said sometimes it takes days. Sometimes it takes weeks. He told me a couple of days ago, they found two stolen cars on the same day. Now it’s just a ‘wait and see’ game. So that’s what I’ve been doing,” she said.

She tells UWK she is grateful for all of the help and support from friends and family. Her prayer now, is that someone will have a tip that leads to the recovery of her cherished car.

“It makes me really happy to know that I have people that care, and they show up for me as much as I showed up for them. But it’s just hard. It’s really heartbreaking,” she shared in tears.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 344-STOP. You can also submit an anonymous tip online

Download the Unfiltered with Kiran app from the Apple App Store and Google Play to stay updated on the latest news across the Capital area.

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