Car thefts from dealerships appear well-organized
LONDON, ONT. -- A rash of car thefts from dealerships across southwestern Ontario appears to be well-organized, according to one security analyst, and for one family-run business in London it couldn’t come at a worse time.
Moe Abdulrazak, who owns Titanium Auto Sales on Springbank Drive with his two brothers received a call from their security company around two o’clock Sunday morning.
He was told there was motion detected in the security system. When he checked the surveillance video his worst fears came true.
The video appeared to show a pickup truck pull into the lot. One person smashes the glass in the dealership window, then emerges a short time later. Figures can be seen running across the lot, then getting into vehicles, and driving off quickly.
“When I first turned on, saw the outside camera, I saw the Mercedes. The lights turned on and they’re adjusting. Whoa my heart. I drove so fast here.”
Gone are 40 sets of vehicle keys, along with three high-end used cars with a combined value of about $100,000.
“They knew exactly what they wanted,” said Abdulrazak. “They didn’t take anything under $30,000. All the vehicles they took, they were high-end cars. My theory is that they have someone who takes the vehicles from them.”
Police say two other dealerships have had cars stolen recently - 519 Cars and Southwest Auto Group, both on Wharncliffe Road South.
Police couldn’t say whether the recent rash of auto thefts have anything to do with businesses being in shut-down mode because of the pandemic, but Const. Sandasha Bough told CTV News it is being seen in other jurisdictions.
“The break and enter and thefts from the dealerships are not only happening here in London, but we’re seeing them in the wider region as well. But we have seen incidents such as these in the past.”
In fact, in the town of Fergus, in Wellington County, nine new trucks were stolen from a Ford dealership early Sunday morning. The combined value of the stolen vehicles is $700,000.
Public safety analyst Chris Lewis says it would have taken a lot of coordination to pull off, not to mention the bodies to do it.
“They’d have to have a way to get the new vehicle identification numbers on them to sell them properly. At any given time there’s investigations going on into different groups around the country.“
As for Abdulrazak, he’s not holding out hope they’ll get the cars back. His family business is now left to pick up the pieces.
“It’s been really hard for everyone, our sales team, our service team, our families. Our sales are completely down. You know we have enough to deal with that we don’t have to deal with something on top, missing cars or missing keys.”