PARMA, Ohio — The general manager of Spitzer Motor City in Parma says the dealership has been broken into twice over the course of two weeks, with multiple cars stolen. Now, they are offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who can provide police with information that helps in the recovery of those vehicles.
According to GM Tony Black, early on the morning of Jan. 26, three pre-owned cars were taken— two Jeep Grand Cherokees and a Volkswagen Atlas. The previous week, he says two customer cars were stolen from the service department — a Jeep Compass and a Chrysler Pacifica.
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Per Black, police have found one of the stolen cars, but now he's hoping that the reward will help in recovering the others.
The break-in early Thursday morning was caught on dealership surveillance cameras. The footage pictures three people breaking into a car wash bay door. They are seen using tools, which Black believes they found inside the dealership, to break into a locked key box in the sales department.
"[They] came in, broke into our key box and stole keys, and got away with some of our pre-owned inventory," Black told 3News.
Of the customer-owned vehicles, Black explained they "were in for service work. They broke into our service manager's office and took two keys right off of his desk."
Black says thieves may know to check the sales and service departments, knowing that those are the most likely places keys will be given that dealerships often focus on sales and service when handling cars. Going forward, Spitzer plans to increase security measures, like making sure alarms are active every day and moving the locked key box to a different location.
Black adds the dealership is currently undergoing construction, which has caused them to move cameras and alarm systems around.
Spitzer Motor City is not the only dealership impacted by car thieves — Black said other Spitzer locations have been affected, too. WKYC has also recently covered similar incidents out of dealerships in Geauga County, Akron, Strongsville, and North Olmsted.
"We're working with other agencies to try to determine whether or not they are all related," Lt. Dan Ciryak of the Parma Police Department said.
Authorities claim to have seen multiple instances of break-ins at dealerships in the city. Ciryak says car thieves are finding access to keys when they break in, and are taking cars right off the lot. Additionally, in some situations, he says thieves will take multiple key fobs, but only drive off with a few cars at a time, with the intention to return and attempt to steal more cars.
"It seems like some of the cars they end up using to commit other crimes," he added. "One of the cars [that] was recovered did have a bullet hole in it, so you know, typically if that car's got a bullet hole in it, [it] makes you guess that they may have been shooting at someone else, taking on return fire.
"Again, it's not something that a car thief is going to report to police."
Ciryak says it can be challenging to track down these cars once stolen. He adds if thieves steal a car that's in for service or which has plates on it already, ere isn't always a reason for police to run the plates unless they violate traffic laws.
"With the plate readers, it helps, but a lot of times these people will steal plates and put them on other cars, and that makes it more confusing or more difficult for law enforcement, as well," Ciryak noted.
According to Ciryak, alarm systems and larger safes which are harder to steal or break into can be helpful in deterring thieves. But for now, Black is hoping the $ reward being offered will be enough for someone to come forward to authorities and share information that could lead to the recovery of their stolen cars.
"That's really the only thing that we can do: Increase security measures and try to stop it and prevent if from occurring again," Black said.