'Professional' Thieves Steal 124 Wheels Off Cars at Chevrolet Dealership Overnight
Get these guys in a pit crew, pronto.
Like a NASCAR pit crew tryout gone terribly wrong, police say a "professional" crew of thieves managed to steal 124 wheels off dozens of new cars at a Louisiana Chevrolet dealership in just a few short hours over the weekend. And now authorities are linking the heist to a larger crime ring that's struck other dealers across the South in a similarly efficient fashion.
According to the Slidell Police Department, the manager of Matt Bowers Chevrolet arrived to work on Saturday morning to find the tires and rims missing from 31 new models in the locked rear parking lot. Affected cars ranged from Chevy Malibus and Volts to SUVs like the Traverses and Tahoe, and even a few Silverado pickups. Most had been left propped up with wooden posts or cheap jackstands. The dealership calculated the loss at $120,000.
Acting with impressive speed, police say the thieves "defeated locks, alarms, surveillance video, and went as far as to manipulate the exterior lights in the parking lot so they could work in the dark of the night, completely undetected." Just two men lifted 124 wheels in as little as two hours; at 3:00 am, the suspects were finally caught on an extremely blurry camera walking across the lot toward a different entrance to cut the lock and let in an accomplice in a U-Haul truck.
Forty minutes later, the truck was again spotted leaving the dealership, whisking the crew and their illicit cargo away into the night. They left behind precious little in evidence—all Slidell police have to go on is a fuzzy physical description of two black males, one with a red shirt and the other dressed in black with white shoes. But authorities now believe the case is likely connected to several other recent large-scale wheel heists at dealerships in Texas and Arkansas.
Dealer owner Matt Bowers isn't taking this whole thing lying down, offering a $25,000 reward for information that leads to the suspects' arrests. Wheel thefts are actually fairly common for car dealerships—OEM wheels are expensive and pretty much untraceable when sold individually—but the sheer scale (not to mention the speed) of this job is remarkable. So every time you're faced with a mountain of work and seemingly no time to get it done, remember: If these guys can do it, so can you.