Man claims thieves stole gun from truck while he was in hospital with dying father

Ken Bernardo and his father.
Ken Bernardo and his father.

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A Charlotte man says his firearm was stolen out of his vehicle while he was inside of a hospital with his dying father.

Theft victim Ken Bernardo said his pickup truck was parked in an emergency room parking lot at the Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center. He said the theft happened the same July morning that his father passed away. He noticed damage to his vehicle as he and his mother were leaving the hospital.

"To my disbelief I found my back right window smashed in, looked in my front seat and noticed that they had crowbarred open my glove box and stolen my firearm," explained Bernardo.

The incident upset him more on top of what had already been a difficult time.

"I mean it was the lowest point of the day. On top of my father passing it was just a kick in the gut," said Bernardo.

He said that gun stolen was a Taurus .380. However, the thieves left several other items inside of the truck.

"They're looking for only one thing - firearms," said Bernardo. "They didn't take my radar detector. They didn't take my sunglasses. They didn't take some personal belongings I had in the back seat. They were only interested in the firearm."

Bernardo called the police and filed a report with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. He said his truck suffered $2,400 worth of damage and the gun was worth $200.

A representative from Novant Health sent WBTV the following statement in response to questions about the incident.

At Novant Health, safety is at the center of every decision made in our facilities. As with most hospital systems, Novant Health is not responsible for patients' personal belongings. However, we provide onsite public safety officers, available safety deposit boxes and visible safety reminders that are posted throughout Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center. We also encourage patients and visitors to avoid bringing valuables such as cash or jewelry to our facilities. In the unfortunate situation where personal belongings are misplaced, Novant Health conducts internal investigations and works with police to address any incident.

Bernardo thinks the thieves may have targeted vehicles at the hospital on purpose.

"They know those individuals who have a concealed carry license, they can't take (firearms) into those establishments," explained Bernardo.

He hopes his story serves as a warning to other firearm owners.

"We need to be vigilant. We need to be thinking about things like this and hopefully this message will get out and people will be more aware."

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