Cars

Detroit car thieves target automakers’ own actions

Detroit car thieves target automakers' own actions

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  • Here is the plan. First, sneak into the lot where the automaker keeps the expensive vehicles it just built but hasn’t shipped to customers yet. In this case, Stellantis.
  • Second, find the keys stored in the vehicles and, even if it’s secure grounds, fight your way through a gate or fence and leave.
  • Third, start again a few nights later. Watch out, the police are investigating.

    Brand new trucks disappear from the parking lot outside Detroit-area assembly plants in a new twist on car theft – so new they’re still in the manufacturer’s custody. Truck thieves recently targeted at least three locations filled with new vehicles in the Detroit metro area. The details of these thefts are under investigation, but the general plan appears to be for the thieves to somehow break into the parking lot and then chase the new trucks away, possibly by breaking down a gate or a fence when exiting.

    A Stellantis spokesperson responded to Car and drivers investigates these reports with a brief account of the situation. The statement said Stellantis is working with the Sterling Heights Police Department on the theft of multiple vehicles from a shipyard that services the third-party run Sterling Heights Assembly Plant.

    “As this is an open investigation, the company does not comment further on which vehicles were stolen or how they were stolen,” the spokesperson said.

    According to an Instagram post by Detroit Metro News, however, at least 15 vehicles have been stolen in the past month, including new Ram trucks, a Jeep Wagoneer, Charger Hellcats and a Jeep Trackhawk. Stellantis locations that have been claimed to steal vehicles recently include a lot in Shelby Township, the Chrysler plant in Auburn Hills and the Jefferson Assembly plant in Detroit. At least four trucks were stolen from one location in a single night, including a Ram TRX worth over $100,000. The thief driving one of the trucks quickly crashed the new car into a nearby tractor-trailer before being picked up by a thief in another stolen truck.

    Metro Detroit News said it couldn’t confirm if all of these thefts were related, but there are definite links between some of them. They claim that two high-end vehicles, including a $90,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, were stolen from the Stellantis Jefferson North assembly plant a few weeks ago and then, in an unusual twist, the thieves took used the Trackhawk to return to the field and steal a Dodge Challenger Hellcat a few days later.

    It might be easier to steal these new vehicles than outsiders realize, according to a report from Detroit news channel WDIV which notes that Stellantis and its partners use top-notch security guards at these locations. But the automaker could eventually change policy to make these new vehicles harder to steal.

    “Insiders tell us it’s really no secret that the keys are placed in these brand new trucks and the thieves sneak onto the property, undetected, get into the trucks and wait for the key moment to leave” , Click Detroit said journalist Shawn Ley in a video report.

    Thieves have targeted Detroit-area auto factories as easy targets in the past. In 2018, for example, as The Detroit office reported at the time, a group of thieves first stole a 2003 Ram truck and then used that truck to approach the Fiat Chrysler plant in Warren, Michigan in the middle of the night. From there, they dug a hole in the fence, then walked away with eight new trucks fresh off the production line. At the time, people wondered why thieves could steal these trucks so easily, and it was assumed that the keys were kept in the vehicles. Fiat Chrysler declined to comment on this policy at the time and declined again for this article, but this new wave of thefts will certainly raise this question again.

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