Thieves targeting local car dealerships

March 9, 2010 8:46:27 PM PST
An auto dealership owner has surveillance video he wants you to see. Someone has targeted dealerships in Baytown for months, even hitting the same one twice. But they're not taking what you would expect. The thieves are leaving the vehicles alone. Baytown police say these are really big thefts. The suspects are hitting car dealerships along I-10 near Baytown and walking away with tens of thousands of dollars in goods.

When salesman Roel Guerra arrived at Casa GMC-Buick on Monday morning, something sure didn't look right.

"The truck was sitting just on the floor flat," said Guerra.

As he and other employees looked over the lot, they found more damage - mirrors were missing, rims were ripped off and tailgates were torn away.

"For us to replace twenty inch wheels that are already on there, it's costing us money," Guerra said.

While the security cameras didn't capture the entire crime, it did capture something.

"You just see them walk confident on the lot and they just take whatever they want," said Guerra.

Employees believe that is stolen mirrors in their hands, special mirrors that cost around $200 each.

The crime happened around 1:30am Sunday morning when less traffic would have been whizzing by on the East Freeway. The thief or thieves seemed to know exactly what they were after - trucks and SUVs with upgraded tires and rims.

"The wheels they like stealing are chrome, 28 inch," said Guerra.

They can cost $1,700 a piece.

Baytown police say at least two other dealerships along I-10 have also been targeted. Sometimes the thieves strike the same dealership more than once. Investigators believe they could all be related.

"The motive appears to be the same. The suspects go on the property, put blocks underneath the vehicle, they remove the lugnuts and are taking tires and wheels off particular types of trucks," said Lt Eric Freed of the Baytown Police Department.

The losses are adding up, sometimes $40,000 a night.

"We want this crime to stop," Guerra said.

The salesmen say the recession has made it hard enough to sell cars. The last thing they need is to just give them away one part at a time.

"Hopefully, they do catch the suspects," said Guerra.

Baytown police say they are searching for who might be selling these stolen goods and warn you to be leery if you see a particularly good deal on rims and wheels.

If you know anything about the dealership thefts, you're asked to call Baytown Crime Stoppers at 281-427-TIPS. You can remain anonymous and there is a cash reward.