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Scott Lambert talks Auto Theft on KSTP-TV

March 1, 2017

February 26, 2017 11:50 PM KSTP-TV

Police have issued crime alerts to car dealers in the Twin Cities after thieves have been stealing vehicles right off dealership lots.

The most recent one happened last Sunday at a Volkswagen business in Burnsville. Authorities said the heist was caught on security cameras, and police are reviewing the video to see if they can identify the suspects.  Three cars were boosted in the incident.

A few blocks away and a few months before that between eight to 10 cars were stolen from a different dealership.

Since last summer, dozens of cars from various lots in Coon Rapids and Golden Valley have been swiped. 

Officers from a couple of security firms confirm they were just hired to patrol various lots in Burnsville. Plus, large vehicles have been posted at some entrances to keep cars in and potential thieves out.

Burnsville Police Sgt. Matt Smith said, "At this point, we don't know if this was an organized group or individual who kept coming back, and that's part of what we're investigating."

Authorities report the crooks are going after vehicles with smart keys and lock boxes.  

The Minnesota Auto Dealer's Association's Scott Lambert said this kind of grand theft auto is a big time crime and "stealing a vehicle even for a joyride is a felony in this state."  

If convicted, a car thief faces up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

State records show nearly 23 vehicles are stolen everyday. That's nearly one an hour in Minnesota, whether from a dealership, a driveway or the street.

"If they're stealing cars it's because there is something else going on, it's endemic of other crime and it eventually costs everybody," Lambert said.

Lambert is referring to higher insurance premiums.  

The Minnesota Department of Commerce runs a program to help combat auto theft. It gives money to local law enforcment and prosecutor's offices. The grants are funded from a surcharge collected by insurance carriers that provide comprehensive coverage.

It's 50 cents per vehicle every six months. Agencies have until 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, to apply. Applications should be sent to autotheftgrant@state.mn.us. For questions regarding the process, contact Brandon Johnson at 651-539-1611 or email brandon.johnson@state.mn.us. 

 

Beth McDonough

Updated: February 26, 2017 11:50 PM

Created: February 26, 2017 08:36 PM

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