After a long day of Christmas shopping, Linda Gipson of Ypsilanti, Mich., just wanted to put down her load of boxes and bags. So she walked out among the acres and acres of cars at the Twelve Oaks Mall in nearby Novi and used her key to open the trunk of what she thought was her 2003 silver Ford Focus. Gipson put her bags in the trunk and went back into the mall.
But when she finished shopping an hour later she walked back to the parking spot and says she got an awful surprise. "I parked in aisle 10 and the car wasn't there so I turned around and saw a similar silver Ford Focus and realized that I must have used my key to open the trunk of the wrong car because the car I put the gifts in was gone and my car was still in the lot."
Gipson said she and her husband then went to security guards at the Twelve Oaks Mall who called the police. On the police report, Gipson detailed a long list of presents that she said would not now be under the family Christmas tree. "A pair of boots up to the knee lavender or purple I can't remember which. Perfume from Macy's, two sweaters and a hat and a scarf," said Gipson, who put the price tag of the missing items at about $700.
"I am still hoping someone will have a heart and bring back the gifts," said the mother of five who describes herself as an in-home health aide who is currently without any clients.
Assistant Police Chief Tom Lindberg of the Novi, Michigan Police Department, said officers have pulled video from cameras attached to the mall and Macy's. "All the video cameras were searched to see if we could see her going out with packages. It was not a fruitful search we didn't see anything," said Lindberg who added that the shopping center is very large so it might not be unusual the cameras didn't pick it up.
But there is one aspect of this story that has been puzzling the Novi police department since they got the report. "I'm not an expert on keys and how many different combinations they have but -- it's a one in a million chance that this could happen. It's possible the trunk she went up to wasn't closed all the way. There are so many different possibilities but all of them remote," said Lindberg.
ABC News.com checked with a variety of Ford dealers and locksmiths across the country all of whom said the same thing car keys are unique and it would be virtually impossible for one car key to open a different car's door or trunk -- even one of the same year and model.
In other words, the chances of one key being able to open two similar 2003 Ford Focus that just happened to be parked close to each other in a shopping mall would be something of a miracle.
But Gipson maintains that's exactly what happened. She said she called Ford after the incident apparently in an attempt to get some restitution for her losses and after they wouldn't help her she said she called a local television station to try to put the word out.
Gipson maintains that she is the victim of a terrible set of circumstances and just wants her missing gifts back.