CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Thieves are breaking into small used car lots and they’re not just taking off in one car. The crooks are grabbing all the keys and then coming back later to make a bigger haul.
The owners of three used car lots told CBS 6 senior reporter Wayne Covil that they believe the break-ins and thefts are connected.
It started in Colonial Heights where thieves broke into an office and pilfered all the keys to the cars on the lot.
Now there are reports of similar break-ins and thefts in Chesterfield County and in Petersburg that are taking their toll on the small businesses.
"They took a 2001 Chevy Blazer that was parked over there underneath the sign and a 2004 Dodge Stratus,” Gary White with Sterling Motors in Chesterfield County said.
White said he has never had any serious problems at his Jeff Davis Highway car lot. until early Monday morning.
That’s when he discovered thieves had pushed aside his window AC unit and crawled through the small opening to grab the keys from his desk and another key box in another room here.
Just a few weeks before, the crooks targeted Antle Auto Sales on Route 460 in Petersburg.
"They got on this car and got on the air conditioner, busted this glass out," property owner Carl Vanderburg said.
Inside they stole all the keys to the cars on the lot and took one car that night. Then Saturday they came back with two stolen tags.
"They put the tags on the front and back and they got the windows down but they never did get the vehicle out," Vanderburg said.
The owners said if they do not get the cars back, they will be out the money.
"It's two cars out of our inventory, we hate to turn it into our insurance. We're afraid insurance rates will go up,” White said.
Besides the loss of the cars, having new keys made for the vehicles is costing them hundreds, so one owner is now paying to protect his property.
"We start having somebody stay here over night and watch because my cars cost a lot of money and my deductible costs a lot more. So I'm trying to save myself from paying more money,” Abe Jabri of Abe's Auto Sales said.
The owner of Wamsley's Auto in Colonial Heights, the car lot that was broken into that had all their car keys stolen – and then had their building set ablaze, thinks all three break ins are related.
Both the owner of Sterling Motors and Antle Auto Sales said they are now taking addition precautions to protect the keys and prevent the cars from being stolen.