TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa police are searching for a group of bold burglars who didn’t steal jewelry or money, but rather eight cars straight from a car lot.
Early on Friday morning, a group of 10 juvenile males broke into the Prespa car lot on Florida Avenue in a mini-van that was stolen out of the Orlando area. Clear surveillance video shows two of the men busting in through the front window and rummaging through drawers until finally finding a box containing all the keys for the vehicles on the lot.
Once all of the suspects had their own pair of hot wheels to steal, the stolen minivan they all came in rams the gates allowing the group to get away. According to Tampa Police, seven vehicles fled eastbound, while one fled westbound out of the dealership. The eight stolen cars wasn’t the only loss this car lot experienced.
While shuffling around the wheels, 14 other cars were damaged and at least two were moved, but not taken. According to Tampa Police, two of the eight vehicles have been recovered. A 2012 white Dodge Ram was recovered and processed by Pasco County SO, and a 2005 BMW Model X3 was involved in a single-vehicle crash and recovered by FHP as an abandoned vehicle near mile marker #7 on I-4.
“Not really sure why they picked that time specifically, but I can tell you that certainly under the cover of darkness, more crime can occur,” said Lt. Anna Richardson of the Tampa Police Department.
In light of this bold theft, the department is now urging car lot owners to take extra safety precautions.
“Reinforcing the gates, perhaps leaving a car in front of a gate so the gate can’t be pushed down, that type of thing,” said Lt. Richardson.
Other tips include increasing lighting on the lots, locking all car doors and putting the extra keys in a safe or take them off the property. Authorities think the suspects in this crime are actually part of a bigger crime group based in Orlando.
They have been in contact with investigators there to try and catch this group.
Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward of up to $3,000 for information that leads to the identification and arrest of the suspects in this case.