It was a terrifying ordeal for a family vacationing in Chattanooga. A mother and her son discovered all their possessions were missing from their room at the Stadium Inn on W. 21st Street.

Police say Jennifer L. Eustice used a room key issued to the family's room. They say Eustice told the front desk manager she lost her key, then lied about her last name and used the family's personal information that was listed under their reservation.

Michelle Petrou and her son had been touring the Scenic City for a day or so, visiting from California. She says they were sleeping in their hotel room early Monday morning when the phone rang.

“I got a call at like 3:30, 4:00 in the morning from the front desk asking me if my last name was Potter which is not my last name and asked me if I had a black backpack,” said Petrou. “I thought it was like a scam. I turned on the light and as he's talking my black backpack, and my purse and my rental car keys were gone.”

Petrou recorded a video from the hotel's surveillance cameras. It appeared to show someone leaving her room carrying a bag. She says the hotel manager saw the footage and called 911 after he alerted her.

According to the arrest report, Chattanooga police found the suspect, 38-year-old Jennifer Eustice, in the hotel parking lot shortly after. The report says Eustice was putting items into Petrou's rental car. Some of Petrou's belongings were found inside the car, along with drugs they say belonged to Eustice.

“It's very scary. You see things on the news and then it happens to you,” said Petrou. “I mean she had a knife on her and my son saw the knife on her like those kind of things are scary like he realizes that yes she just came in and out, but what if I had woken up and confronted her because I would have?”

Channel 3 reached out to the hotel and was told no one could speak on camera, but that management is looking into what happened. Police tell us they’ve responded to 35 calls within the past year; 12 of those calls were theft related.

It's not the trip Petrou imagined, but she hopes her son's first visit to the scenic city ends better than it started.

“If anything I'm more concerned that my son doesn't take this as like who everybody is and that he is enjoying his time here and seeing the bigger picture.”

Eustice faces several charges including theft of property. Chattanooga police are looking for a second suspect. He was last seen driving a silver Ford Focus. If you have any information call police at 423-698-2525.

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