Nicole Curtis captivates audiences with the true stories of her Detroit home renovations on HGTV's Rehab Addict, but the drama became too real for her and her family this week. On Monday, Nicole was robbed on her way home from the city's JazzFest.
"I was enjoying a night out in the city," Nicole recalled to POPSUGAR Home. But things took a dark turn. "I did all of the things that I always warn everyone else against. I parked in a dark street. I parked away from the crowd."
On the way back to her car, Nicole noticed the vehicle next to hers was strangely idling at the entrance to a parking garage. Four men were inside.
What Nicole did next is what she wishes she hadn't. She opened the driver's seat door, then walked around to place her infant son in his car seat.
"I was on the opposite side of the car, loading the baby in, when all of a sudden, my nanny's screaming and this woman down the street is screaming," Nicole said. "I look up, and there's a gentleman in my car – sitting in my driver's seat."
Nicole's mind instantly focused on her son. The man grabbed a bag that contained her laptop, and then ran back to the idling car, which sped off.
"The woman behind us was screaming behind us, 'Call 911!'" Nicole said.
The police came and took a report. Nicole received a copy, which she says wasn't entirely accurate. But that didn't matter, as she wasn't worried about the police finding her belongings anyway. Her family's safety was her top concern, and now, she wants to remind fans — women especially — not to let their guard down.
"I went home and I was really shaken. I'm a tough chick, and this happened to me," she said. "I sat for a day and a half, and thought, 'I'm not talking about this.' But then I thought, 'What if this happens to someone else? What if it happens to somebody's daughter?'"
The best way to stay alert, Nicole believes, is to follow your gut. If something seems off, listen to your intuition — no matter where you live. Many car keys have a panic button; use it. Ask a trusted friend for a walk to the car, and park in well-lit areas.
"This doesn't just happen right here," Nicole said of Detroit. "I could be working anywhere in the world and have this happen to me. It's not specific to one city or another."
Now, Nicole's family runs practice drills. They do seat belts and car seats once everyone is in the car, with the doors locked.
"Now I'm hyperaware," she said. "I don't want this to happen to me again, and I certainly don't want it to happen to anyone else."