STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (WXYZ) — It has happened again and again within less than a week. Overnight 4 Ram pickups were stolen from the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant.
Last Thursday, surveillance videos showed 3 Ram pickups and a high-end Jeep busted right through the gate of the Stellantis storage lot in Shelby Township.
This is an epidemic we’ve been showing you for more than a year. It started with an internal Michigan State Police Bulletin sent to all local police departments. The bulletin says in most cases thieves are using computer tablets to duplicate key fobs and drive off the cars within seconds.
Police working these cases are dealing with layers of people involved.
Szott M 59 Dodge in Highland had 4 stolen in October right through their showroom window. Three have been recovered and 3 teens were arrested, ages 15 to 17.
Jeff Schneider is Director of Sales for Szott Automotive Group and tells 7 Action News, the teens are paid in cash “some are three, four or $5,000 cash. They give them the technology to steal the vehicles. They show them exactly how it's done.”
And if are teen first-time offenders they can get a slap on the wrist when they go to court.
“These people can steal $100,000 car, which to me is a huge deal. And they go before a judge, and they say property crime, insurance, got the car back and they're back on the streets,” Schneider says.
Szott has gone old school to protect their hot targets giving them “the boot” - wheel locks that had been used by cities on people who didn’t pay parking tickets.
Stellantis announced in August an increase in security but it obviously doesn’t go far enough.
Regarding the latest thefts, Stellantis sent us this statement:
Stellantis is working with the Sterling Heights Police Department regarding the theft of several vehicles early Tuesday morning from a shipping yard that services the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant managed by a third party. As this is an open investigation, the Company is not commenting any further on what vehicles were stolen or how they were stolen.
Stellantis also provided a statement regarding the updated security features:
The Key Programming Lockdown software update is in market for Dodge Challenger/Charger Scat Pack and Hellcat models, extending back to 2019MY. Software for 2018MY to 2015MY vehicles will be rolled out in the coming months. The intrusion module feature is standard on Dodge Challenger/Charger Scat Pack and Hellcat models, and optional on all other models, including Chrysler 300, regardless of powertrain.