CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) – Car thefts, including those in which vehicles are stolen directly from dealerships, are on the rise.
In the past three weeks, Nexstar’s WJZY has obtained video of at least four different incidences of thieves brazenly stealing cars from dealerships in North Carolina alone.
The first occurred on Feb. 19 in Lexington. Thieves broke into Capital Chevrolet Buick GMC, used a crowbar to break into the key lock box, and drove off with seven cars valued at a total of $344,483.
The following week, on Feb. 27, Adams Auto in Charlotte was hit. The suspects drove vehicles from the showroom through the dealership’s doors, making off with a Maserati and three BMWs with a total value of approximately $300,000.
On Mar. 9, Modern Nissan in Cornelius captured surveillance video of suspects driving off with an Audi and a Dodge Durango.
And just this past Monday, a group of thieves took six cars from Mountain Mitsubishi in Hickory. The total value was nearly $500,000.
Analysts have noted an increase in vehicle theft rates over the last few years, with some cities experiencing a 500% rise in carjackings over 2019, according to 2022 data obtained by the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Vehicle thefts in Charlotte alone increased by 20% in 2022 over 2021.
Other experts in the automotive industry believe the nationwide rise in vehicle thefts could stem from perpetrators stealing cars for their parts.
Certain car parts, like catalytic converters, have also been popular targets for thieves looking to resell them for a profit.
“We keep an eye on catalytic converter theft quite a lot, and we know the palladium, the rhodium, the platinum inside of those things is going for hundreds of thousands of dollars an ounce,” said CarFax editor-in-chief Patrick Olsen.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said they are aware of the recent dealership thefts and are investigating any possible connections.