Robbed Ducey Ducey's 96g Car Stolen

Posted: September 23, 2000

When Phillies outfielder Rob Ducey drove into the parking lot on Front Street near South Thursday night, he had unwittingly walked into a carefully laid trap.

A trio of carjackers was lurking in the shadows of the parking lot waiting for a potential victim.

They were aided by a darkened parking lot, which was unlit because of a dispute between the city and a local firm over who should fix the lights.

Within minutes, the thieves had fled in Ducey's $96,000 Porsche. Yesterday afternoon, cops found Ducey's car in South Camden and had three suspects in custody.

Philadelphia Police Lt. John Walker, who is assigned to the South Street detail and who had been working the case, went to Veterans Stadium last night to tell Ducey they had found his car.

"I'm just glad it's over and hope it's the last time these people can do something like this," said Ducey, who took a cab to the Vet for last night's Phillies-Mets game.

"And I'm relieved no one got hurt. The police did a great job. I was really impressed with how they treated me - even before they knew who I was."

The drama began about 11:50 p.m. Thursday. Ducey, headed for dinner nearby, pulled into the nearly vacant parking lot at 501 S. Front St. He saw three guys in the lot but thought nothing of it.

He backed into a parking spot and began stepping out of his car. That's when one of them emerged from the shadows behind him, he said.

"Give me your keys," the robber said.

"Excuse me," Ducey replied as he turned around. "Then the guy looked down and I looked down and saw he had a gun. I threw him my keys and took off," Ducey said.

Ducey ran south on Front Street into Downey's Pub, where he called police.

"It was like an adrenaline rush like you get on the on-deck circle in a big-game situation," he said of his sprint for help. "It's that same rush, but obviously this is life and death."

The carjackers took off in his 1999 silver Porsche 996. In it were Ducey's golf clubs and his cell phone.

Walker thinks the trio was waiting for the right victim to drive up.

"Unfortunately it was Mr. Ducey," he said.

Cops quickly thought of trying to call the thieves on the cell phone. They had no idea the assailants would be dumb enough to answer the phone.

By that time, they had figured out that Ducey is a reserve outfielder for the Phillies - no doubt aided by the Phillies tag on his golf clubs and a baseball card with his name and face on it.

But they thought the voice on the other end of the phone was Ducey, and they began making demands.

"They asked for $50,000 to get the car back," said Ducey, who listened as cops impersonated him.

Meanwhile, investigators were trying to get AT&T to trace the call. But they kept getting switched from one voice mail to another, and before they could talk with a person, Ducey's phone shut down in mid-conversation.

"Ducey said the battery will disconnect and shut the phone off sometimes," Walker said. "So that's what we think happened."

They were unable to raise them on the phone again.

But the thieves were apparently having a good time with his phone. They were calling many of the numbers on his speed dial, Ducey said.

"I felt very violated," he said. "They were using my cell phone. They were calling people that I knew. They had access to my life, and I didn't know who they were."

Some of the people they called let him know they'd been contacted, he said.

Cops worked through the night to find the suspects, and about 3:50 p.m. yesterday, the Porsche surfaced in a public-housing project in South Camden. Camden police took three suspects in the car into custody and notified Walker, who then notified Ducey.

The suspects' names were not released last night. Police said the investigation was continuing.

Fortunately for Ducey, his car had little damage, investigators said. They were combing the vehicle for evidence last night.

Walker, who had feared something like this might happen, had been pushing for months to get lighting fixed in that parking lot.

"They dug up the street three months ago and damaged the lighting in the lot," he said. "I've been trying to get that fixed, but there's a dispute over who's responsible for it."

He said he has contacted the city Streets Department, which hired the company that did the construction, and the Interstate Land Management Corp., which leases the lot. Both sides claim the other one should fix it, he said.

"I've been trying to get the repairs completed, and it just hasn't been done," he said. "With the volume of people in that area, it was just a matter of time before something like this happened."

Barry Promos, director of the firm, said his company did agree to do a one-time fix of the lights. He said he sent an electrician there in August and discovered that the wires had been pulled out of the light poles when they dug up the streets.

So he said he thought the city or the contractor it hired should pay for the repairs.

"We are of the opinion that it was damage done by the Streets Department or the contractor while working on the streets," he said. "We have never had a problem with those lamps."

Luz Cardenas, a spokeswoman for Mayor Street, did not return phone calls seeking comment yesterday.

Ducey was disgusted when he heard about the dispute.

"It comes down to a situation where you've got two parties fighting over something like $15,000, and people are at risk and other people thrive in those situations," he said. "It just isn't worth it."

He's just glad something more serious didn't happen.

"It could've been a lot worse for me," he said. "He could've just shot me, so I was really lucky."

And he's also glad no one was hurt trying to apprehend the carjackers.

"I didn't want the police to get hurt. I didn't want these guys going 150 mph down I-95 and killing somebody," he said. "They can have my car."

Send e-mail to weisenn@phillynews.com

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