Woman pleads guilty to taking car from hospital

Published 3:13 pm Saturday, July 9, 2016

An Austin woman who stole a vehicle in February because she didn’t have a ride home from the hospital but left a hospital ID tag in the car leading to her arrest changed her plea to guilty Friday in Mower County court.

Rachel Marie Gutierrez, 33, was charged Feb. 10 and reached a plea agreement Friday to plead guilty to felony theft of a motor vehicle.

According to a court complaint, officers were dispatched to Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin around 2 a.m. on Feb. 8 for a report of a stolen 2011 gold Town and Country Van.

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The victim reportedly arrived at the emergency room around 6 p.m. Sunday and left his brown Carhartt coat with the vehicle keys in the pocket laying on one of the chairs in the ER lobby while visiting someone. When he returned, his coat was gone. His van, which was parked in the lot on the south side of the building, was also gone, according to the complaint.

Officers later reviewed security camera footage and saw a woman — later identified as Gutierrez — with brown hair and a grey coat walking around the lobby. One camera showed her pick up the coat, put it on and exit the building by the south door. The footage showed the victim’s van parked in the lot and the lights start to flash. Gutierrez was then seen leaving the building from the south door, walking straight to the van and leaving in it.

Mayo staff reported Gutierrez had been walking around the lobby for a short time saying she did not have a ride home. She then told the staff she had found a way home and left wearing the brown coat, according to the complaint.

The van was found by officers abandoned at Hormel Drive on the west side of the Hormel parking lots. The van was towed at the time and later released to the victim on Feb. 8. The victim then found property in the van that wasn’t his, which he brought to officers, including a Mayo Clinic Health Systems bag with an ID wrist tag and discharge papers belonging to Gutierrez.

Gutierrez was later reported to have been seen entering a residence at the 900 block of Second Avenue Northeast. Officers knocked on the door and Gutierrez answered and was arrested for theft. She later agreed to speak with detectives, and first indicated she walked home from the hospital. She was asked about her discharge papers being in the vehicle and then agreed that she went into someone’s jacket at the ER and drove the vehicle without consent. The van was reported to be worth about $10,000.