David Loring stands next to his almost-stolen Mercedes. (Dan Morse/The Washington Post)

Like a lot of people, when David Loring couldn’t find his car in the parking garage, he assumed that he had forgotten where he had parked it. It was Friday morning, beneath a high-rise office building in Rockville.

He walked up a ramp, ascended stairs and started to head down another ramp — when, right in front of him, was his 2016 Mercedes E350.

“Why is my car going the wrong way?” he remembers thinking. “And why is this guy behind the wheel?”

Then it hit him: The driver was trying to steal it. But the driver couldn’t get out of the garage because he was trying to exit through an entry gate whose arm wouldn’t lift.

“What are you doing in my car?” Loring, 56, recalled shouting.

Security camera image of a suspect sought in the attempted theft of a Mercedes-Benz in a Rockville parking garage. (Surveillance video)

The would-be thief played it cool, according to Loring, acting as if he were having trouble operating the Mercedes.

“Let me call my wife. This is her car,” he said, raising his cellphone. “Honey . . .”

Then the man got out, walked off and left Loring next to the car. Loring called 911.

A reporter for The Washington Post, who works in the building connected with the lot, arrived minutes later, unable to drive into the garage because the Mercedes blocked the interior of the entrance.

At the time, Loring was on the phone with his wife, explaining why he was going to be late.

His account was confirmed by the Rockville City Police Department, which as of Friday evening was looking for a suspect. Rockville police Maj. Eric Over said an attempted car theft in a downtown Rockville office garage, at that time of day, with commuters pulling in, is unusual.

“This is an anomaly,” Over said.

For that reason, he said, the man probably was following through on a crime of opportunity. Perhaps he had gone into the car to steal contents and upgraded his ambitions. His getaway plans, though, seemed flawed.

Loring, the Mercedes owner, had taken the parking ticket with him. So even if the would-be thief had properly headed to an exit, he still would have had trouble getting the gate open.

“The behavior was not characteristic of the average car theft suspect,” Over said.

The man also did not seem as determined as some car thieves are. Faced with a closed gate, Over said, experienced car thieves may well have chosen to ram it.

Loring said he paid $40,000 for the used car five weeks ago. As he spoke with detectives and police in the lot, he combed through the Mercedes’s contents, looking for items that might have been taken.He wasn’t exactly sure what had been inside his console but believes he’s out about seven dollar bills. And two packs of Marlboro Lights.

Rockville police ask anyone with information about the suspect or the incident to call 240-314-8900.