Over the past couple of years, we have talked in-depth about the numerous thefts of high-performance Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep®, and Ram vehicles from dealer lots, personal homes, and even holding lots at Stellantis’ own assembly plants.
Thieves are using a locksmith tool called “ProPads” to find out a vehicle’s transponder frequency and reprogram blank key fobs to simply get in a vehicle and drive it away. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), more than 600 high-performance vehicles were stolen in 2021 alone, most of which were HELLCAT-powered.
Thieves are then selling the vehicles for hardly anything close to their value, using the vehicle to commit other crimes, or evading law enforcement agencies.
“In the Detroit area, they are selling them for like $3,500,” Sgt. Jerry Hanna of the Macomb County Auto Theft Squad told the Associated Press. “Once they get that money in their pockets, they go out and steal another one.”
But in recent days, law enforcement is saying that they have now busted a large group of suspected car thieves around Detroit and Cleveland associated with vehicles stolen from those assembly plant holding lots.
Police arrested Devin Rice in January after a Cleveland area postal worker was robbed of a mailbox key. When authorities searched Rice’s home, they found stolen credit cards, mail, and vehicles including a Range Rover, Ram 1500 TRX, and a Dodge SRT HELLCAT.
Police discovered that many of the vehicles were being shipped to other places across the United States, like Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Memphis. From there, the theft ring would seek buyers out on Instagram for those stolen HELLCATs, SRT392s, Scat Packs, Trackhawks, and TRXs ranging from $50,000 to $120,000. Those vehicles would end up being sold on the street from anywhere between $3,500 to $15,000, as stated in the criminal complaint.
Of the vehicles stolen, the most desirable HELLCAT-powered vehicle appears to be the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, which reportedly could bring in $15,000.
Authorities have even said that several of the thieves have gone as far as to post about their exploits on social media accounts like Instagram and Twitter, making it easier for them to apprehend.
Information from the cellphones of those arrested has revealed just how elaborate the theft ring was. It seems that thieves knew that transporting the vehicles across state lines would make it a federal crime. So some of them would have intermediaries take the vehicles across, in order to avoid federal criminal charges.
And Mopars weren’t the only vehicles being targeted. Ford Motor Company also saw several vehicles stolen, multiple times from its Michigan holding lots. Those vehicles being targeted were the F-150 Raptor, Mustang GT, and Mustang Shelby GT500.
But it still isn’t stopping dealers from protecting their inventories. Some dealers have gone as far as to place parking boots on their high-performance HELLCAT models, in an effort to ward off thieves.
As for Rice and the others that were indicted in federal court in Ohio in June, their trials are scheduled to take place next year.
Source: Associated Press