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Car that Newport Beach valet gave to thief turns up in parking lot

Car that Newport Beach valet handed over to thief found in impound lot

A week after waiting -- and waiting some more -- for a parking valet at a Newport Beach restaurant to return with his car, Josh Gelle finally found his 2014 Mazda CX-9.

It was sitting in a private parking lot in a neighboring town.

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FOR THE RECORD

March 18, 9:50 a.m.: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the car was found in an impound lot. It was actually towed after being found in a private parking lot in Costa Mesa.

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The car went missing when a valet inadvertently handed the keys to a thief while Gelle and his girlfriend where dining at Joe’s Crab Shack in Newport Beach, authorities said.

"They came up and said, 'We don't know how to tell you this, but we don't have your car,'" Gelle said after finding out his Mazda was gone.

Gelle’s girlfriend, Jodie Abadie, said the couple had to change the locks to their Lake Forest home because their house key and others were on the key ring that the thief took.

A week later, a towing company notified police that it had hauled a Mazda from a private parking lot in Costa Mesa. Officers identified it as the missing car, Newport Beach police said.

But the thief and some unspecified valuables from the car’s trunk are still missing.

The car was in good condition except for a small scratch on a tire and the keys were left inside, Gelle said.

Gelle said he's working with the valet company, LAZ Parking, in the hope that he'll be reimbursed for thousands of dollars worth of items stolen from the car. He declined to say what the items are.

An LAZ Parking spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

Gelle said LAZ did pay for his car rental and the replacement of locks at his home and office.

Newport Beach police spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella said detectives are looking into the case.

Jeremiah Dobruck writes for Times Community News.

Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck

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