CORAL SPRINGS (CBS4) – Vanessa Autrey was raised to be compassionate.
Her compassion was tested one night late last month while Autrey was filling her gas tank in Coral Springs.
That’s when two 16-year-old girls begged her for a ride to a relative’s house after supposedly being lost on a bus for hours.
“I just wanted to make sure they had a safe place to go,” Autrey said. “I was trying to help.”
Autrey said she drove the teens to an apartment complex, chatting with them about high school.
When they arrived, one of the girls borrowed Autrey’s phone to call her relative and got out of the car. When Autrey exited her car to check on things, her good deed became a nightmare.
“I just felt pulled from behind my hair,” she said. “I was thrown on the ground and I was being dragged on the pavement by my hair. It was very shocking.”
Autrey says the teens punched and kicked her and drove off in her car. She gave chase.
“I ran to the door and put my hand in and laid on the horn as loud as I could, I mean as long as I could, to try and get someone to come help me,” she said, adding that she was screaming for help.
The teens drove off and Autrey knocked on nearby doors until a woman called the police to respond to the crime scene.
Autrey was in a terrifying situation — left in an unfamiliar area with her car, phone, purse and credit cards stolen.
After spending hours making police reports, she discovered her credit cards were being used on a shopping spree at Coral Square Mall and at other stores in the Coral Springs area.
Coral Springs Police say Ruth Daniels, the mother of one of the teens accused of attacking Autrey, was racking up hundreds of dollars of charges on Autrey’s credit cards.
“It’s just really sad to me,” Autrey said. “It’s not obviously not a very good role model. It was just unbelievable that they did all of that to go shop at the mall for a few hours.”
CBS 4 News went to the home of Ruth Daniels looking for answers but no one would speak to us.
Daniels faces 29 charges, including numerous counts of fraudulent use of a credit card and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Police reports say Daniels admitted using Autrey’s credit cards.
“Daniels admitted to using the victim’s credit cards (at) at least 12 different locations,” a police report reads. “Daniels advised that she was given the credit cards by her daughter and (her daughter’s) friend.”
Police reports show the teenage girls are both charged as juveniles with carjacking. The report says one of the teens admitted carjacking Autrey.
Investigative reports show several pieces of Autrey’s identification were found in Daniels’ home.
Vanessa Autrey hopes Daniels and the teens learn from this.
“This isn’t the right way to go through life and it’s mean,” she said.
Autrey, meanwhile, says she’s learned no matter how helpful she wants to be sometimes being cautious is more important.
“I don’t want to live fear or not be compassionate any more but I’m just less trusting and you have to be,” she said.