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Uber driver whose car was used in Chanel heist wondering how he’ll get back on the road

Thieves used a car to smash and grab at the Chanel store on Newbury Street early Friday morning.David Ryan/Globe Staff

The owner of the stolen car used to breach the Chanel store in a smash and grab robbery on Newbury Street last week is now wondering if his insurance company will help him get back on the road as a full-time Uber driver — or leave him on the hook for the costs of the crime.

Amir Forghany was at a McDonald’s restaurant early Friday in Somerville when he twice left the engine running on his Nissan Altima as he stepped inside to pick up two separate delivery orders, he said in a telephone interview Monday. There was no problem the first time he went inside and left the engine running.

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But the second time?

“The car was gone,” he said. “I couldn’t believe this was happening.”

He called Somerville police and reported the car missing. He did not hear anything else until Friday when a Boston police officer contacted him, a conversation that Forghany has committed to memory.

“We found your car,” the officer told him.

“Yes!” Forghany responded. “I was totally elated.”

“It’s in a store,” the officer said.

“OK. What store?” Forghany asked.

“No, it’s literally in a store,” the officer told him. “The robbers used it to ram inside a store.”

Forghany’s elation was immediately replaced by disappointment and a renewed sense of being violated.

Police said Monday the search for the thieves — witnesses described a man and a woman running away from the shattered store about 4:30 a.m. Friday and then getting into an SUV being used as a getaway car — is continuing. The thieves stole some 20 handbags from the international fashion store where such items cost thousands of dollars each.

A department spokesman, Sergeant Detective John Boyle, said Monday the investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made.

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A spokesperson for Uber said the company has reached out to Forghany.

“Mr. Forghany’s report is truly distressing. We’ve been in touch with him to offer support and are standing by to assist law enforcement with their investigation,” the spokesperson said in an e-mail.

According to Boston police records, two high-end stores in close proximity to Chanel in the Back Bay were targeted by smash-and-grab thieves three times since last June — but none involved using a car as a battering ram.

Thieves smashed their way inside the Burberry’s store in June and December and made off with an undetermined amount of items, police wrote in the reports. Both incidents took place in the predawn hours and in both cases glass doors or windows were broken by the thieves in order to get inside. The Chanel and two Burberry robberies all took place between 4:35 a.m. and 5:55 a.m., according to police records.

Earlier this month, someone tried to break into the Tiffany & Co. jewelry store using a brick, but the effort failed when the attack failed to smash the window open around 2:17 a.m., police wrote.

Forghany said that since police allowed the car to be extricated from the Chanel store, he has amassed a towing fee of $150, a daily storage fee of $35 and is now the owner of what is essentially a worthless car, even though it might be repaired if he had $2,000 or so needed to cover the costs.

He doesn’t have that kind of cash, and Forghany isn’t sure it would be a wise use of money anyway.

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Forghany said he was hoping to restart his job as an Uber driver by recovering money under his car theft insurance policy from his insurer, Safety Insurance.

But, he said, he was told by a claims representative that since the car was recovered, it can no longer be covered by his theft policy and he won’t qualify for the $2,000 payment.

And, the claims representative told him, that because the car smashed into a building, it’s would only be covered if there was a collision policy in place. Forghany did not have one.

A Safety Insurance spokeswoman said Monday as a matter of company policy, they do not comment on pending coverage claims.

“I like working for Uber. You’re your own boss and you make good money,” Forghany said. “I need money to put a down payment on a decent car. My credit score is bad. Cars are expensive.”

A friend has created a GoFundMe fund-raiser for Forghany called “Help Amir Rebuild.”

“It is truly heartwrenching to see something this terrible happen to someone who is so amazingly caring and giving,” organizer Steven Murnane wrote. “Without his car, Amir cannot make an income through Ubering as he has since he arrived in Massachusetts and I know he would give his last dollar to help others, so I hope you can help him out, every dollar helps.”

By Monday, $295 had been donated.

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Forghany, who seems to be inherently optimistic, found some good news when it comes to the cost he is bearing because of the theft of his car. “One good news is that, most likely, I’m not going to be sued by the store,” he said.

He also insisted he wanted to send a message to anyone who would read about the incident.

“Don’t leave your car running,” he said.


John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.