The new car owner learned a tough lesson this week: Norwalk isn't the trusting place it used to be.
The Ferris Lane resident had his car stolen Monday -- in the three minutes it took to go inside and pick up the pizza he ordered.
"It's disgruntling to grow up in this town and have this happen," said the 36-year-old man, who was born and raised in Norwalk.
The good news is the victim's newly purchased car was recovered without any damage the following morning.
The car, a 2012 Chevrolet Impala, had about a quarter-tank of gas at Pizza Hut.
"It's almost on empty now," the victim said Tuesday afternoon.
"I bought the car two months ago. I paid cash for it. I was so upset," said the man, who described the four-door sedan as a "regular old car" with no special interest to criminals.
Now that he's been victimized, he said he wants residents to realize the rise in criminal activity in Norwalk is "more than people realize."
The tale of theft and recovery started Monday night after the man went to Pizza Hut to pick up an order he had made via the Internet.
He remembered that workers told him not arrive before 7:09 p.m. He looked at the clock before entering the Milan Avenue restaurant.
"I wanted to make sure I wasn't early. ... I got out of my car at 7:12. I signed my receipt for my debit card transaction at 7:15 and walked out," he said.
The man had parked the Impala by the front door, which is designated for pick-up orders.
"If I hadn't found a place by the front door, I wouldn't have left it running," he said.
Upon discovering his car gone, the man said he thought someone he knew saw him inside Pizza Hut and played a prank by moving his vehicle.
"I thought, 'Joke's over. Where's my car?,'" he said about his first thoughts. "I thought somebody played a joke on me."
The man went back inside and asked someone to call 9-1-1.
"Everybody looked at me like I was crazy," he said.
A woman was behind the man in line, also ready to pick up a pizza. She told him her husband was waiting in their car and recommended they ask him if he saw anything.
The husband said "a very large male entered the car," but he didn't look suspicious or look around before getting in, the victim said. The witness wasn't able to say which direction the culprit went on Milan Avenue.
"He didn't pull out fast or anything," the car owner said. "After we talked to (the husband), I realized it was stolen."
By the time the victim re-entered Pizza Hut, the Norwalk Police Department was on the way.
"It was a very quick response," said the victim, who was complimentary of Officer Dave Daniels.
"He was very nice to us. He was very sympathetic. You could tell he didn't know what to say because he felt horrible," the man said.
The Impala has OnStar capabilities, but authorities learned the tracking system couldn't be used unless there was a subscription.
"When we called, they said there's nothing we can do for you," the man said.
Another strategy was to have the victim's cell phone company "ping" nearby towers. However, he said the company told him they couldn't do that because it wasn't a "life or death" situation.
Police recovered the car at the Key Estates Mobile Home Park. Officers called him about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
"It was at an abandoned trailer," the car owner said. "There was nothing wrong with it."
Inside the center console at the time of the theft were some McDonald's gift cards, cell phone chargers and change.
The man's cell phone was on the front seat. It was recovered later between Hammer Huber and Cashland at the intersection of Gallup and Milan avenues -- just down the road from Pizza Hut.
"He must have thrown it out the window and it landed in the grass," said the man, who assumes the suspect didn't want to be traced via the phone.
Daniels speculated the suspect must have been casing Pizza Hut in the hopes of grabbing a delivery person's car, the man said.
"I just happened to pull up and he grabbed it. It wouldn't have happened that fast otherwise," he added.
Police also suspect the culprit used the car to reach a drug transaction.
"He (Daniels) thinks they went on a drug run," the victim said. "It was used from Point A to Point B and left where somebody could find it with the keys in it."
Given what happened, the victim hopes other people who live in the Maple City will learn from his mistake.
"Don't leave your keys in your car running -- even in Norwalk," he said. "Obviously, it's a different place than it used to be. Don't take anything for granted."