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Alma Wilson has a warning for Americans planning shopping trips to Poland: Do not leave your car unattended at any time.

Wilson had her car stolen in a matter of minutes on Oct. 13 in the city of Zgorzelec.

“It was about 2 p.m. when we stopped at a store about 15 minutes from the [German] border,” Wilson said. “My husband was keeping an eye on the car, but he looked away for a few minutes, and that was all they needed.”

Thieves got Wilson’s 1991 535i BMW, all of her family’s overnight bags, her husband’s wallet, her children’s school bags and the family dog, Princess, a Maltese.

Several of Wilson’s co-workers have contacted animal shelters and made trips to try to find the dog but with no luck, Wilson said.

The thieves also charged about $3,000 on her husband’s credit card before the family was able to get home to Ansbach, Germany, and report the card stolen, Wilson said.

“I guess they went on a little shopping spree in the town right at the border,” Wilson said. Fortunately for the Wilsons, the family’s bank does not require them to pay the charges.

After spending the night Oct. 12 in Dresden, Germany, the Wilsons drove into Poland, where their car was stolen from a crowded parking lot, Wilson said. The Polish local police showed up about an hour after they were called and questioned the Wilsons for about three hours, Wilson said.

She added that the police would not give them a ride to the border 15 minutes away, but said they knew someone who would do it — for 150 euro.

“The police didn’t help at all,” Wilson said.

The Wilsons later filed a police report with the military police in Ansbach. The investigation was turned over to the Criminal Investigation Command, she said, adding that none of the stolen items have been returned so far.

According to the U.S. State Department’s Web site, car thefts in Poland and other eastern European nations are common, and often occur when would-be thieves motion for drivers to pull over because of car trouble.

The State Department is negotiating bilateral treaties with Poland and other nations to provide standard procedures for the recovery and return of stolen U.S. vehicles, according to the Web site.

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