Police come across ring of muscle-car burglars targeting dealers, carmakers

Thieves are utilizing cloned crucial fobs to take Dodge muscle vehicles and other high-powered cars straight from dealers and even car manufacturers in Michigan, then offering them for 10s of countless dollars less than their worth, according to authorities and court records.

For one Ohio-based theft ring, everything came crashing down after a January trouble of a U.S. postal employee led authorities to link numerous guys to brazen vehicle thefts in the Detroit location, long house to the nation’s greatest car manufacturers, consisting of Dodge, which is now owned by global corporation Stellantis.

Investigators then found that brand-new Chargers, Challengers, Durangos and Ram pickups worth $50,000 to $100,000 were showing up in Ohio, Indianapolis and East Cost shipping ports after being offered on the street for $3,500 to $15,000, according to a criminal problem.

Thieves in the Detroit location are mainly pursuing Dodge cars with Hellcat engines, consisting of Chargers and Challengers — “the fast ones,” Sgt. Jerry Hanna with the Macomb Auto Theft Squad stated.

“If a patrol car gets them, they are not stopping and they’re faster than patrol cars. They’re 150 mph all day,” he stated.

Instead of taking them off the street, they’re driving them directly off dealer and assembly plant lots.

Just this year, about a half-dozen cars — mainly Dodge Ram TRX pickups — were drawn from a lot outside an assembly plant in Macomb County.

After security procedures were stepped up at some lots with Dodge cars, more than a lots 2022 Ford F-150 Raptor pickup were swiped from a plant lot in June in rural Dearborn. More than a lots Ford Mustangs were taken in early September from the car manufacturer’s assembly plant in Flat Rock, southeast of Detroit.

Thieves have actually targeted Dodges by utilizing portable electronic “pro pads” — a locksmith professional’s tool that can clone secrets by plugging into interior ports in the cars, according to the federal problem in the Ohio case.

Authorities weren’t trying to find taken cars when they stopped Devin Rice on Jan. 31 after a postal employee in Shaker Heights, outdoors Cleveland, was robbed at gunpoint of a mail box secret. But court records reveal that a search of his vehicle and after that his house showed up not simply taken mail, phony checks, and credit and debit cards, however likewise a Ram pickup, a Range Rover SUV and a Dodge with a Hellcat engine — all taken.

Rice and others were prosecuted in federal court in Ohio in June. Jaylen Harris, Lavelle Jones and Hakim Benjamin are charged with conspiracy and interstate transportation of taken cars. Rice, Harris and Jones likewise are charged with mail theft. Their trials are arranged next year.

Harris’ lawyer decreased remark. The AP left e-mail and phone messages looking for remark from lawyers for Benjamin, Rice and Jones.

Harris informed the FBI that he and Jones had actually touched through Instagram with individuals in the Detroit location to get taken cars, according to the problem. Harris stated those burglars “were also selling to buyers in other areas, including Chicago and Indianapolis,” the problem stated.

Videos published on social networks demonstrate how the high-horsepower cars outmatched and averted cops.

A judge mentioned in a detention order that “Benjamin drove a 2022 Dodge Challenger valued at $95,000 at 120 mph down Ohio’s State Route 2 on a Sunday evening in February.”

“Spike strips were eventually needed to remind Benjamin that the law required him to comply with police orders” the judge composed.

About 2 years back, cops in Ohio’s Ottawa County started seeing the cars blasting along state Route 2. The constable’s workplace got calls about negligent driving, Capt. Aaron Leist stated.

“These cars are going 140-150 mph. All have the Hellcat engines. We had a lot of pursuits. We did not catch them all,” he stated.

Investigators found out the cars mainly were being taken in the Detroit location and required to Cleveland. Some likewise were predestined for Memphis, Tennessee, Leist stated.

“We started working with (Stellantis) in early 2022,” he stated. “They would call us and tell us `We have these cars missing.’”

A spokesperson for Stellantis decreased to comment.

Added security procedures at some lots have actually consisted of concrete barriers, according to police.

Then last fall, a car dealership’s display room northwest of Detroit was gotten into. Someone drove a Ram pickup through the structure’s glass wall and “all the other cars followed suit,” stated Jeff Schneider, basic supervisor at Szott Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Highland Township.

“I think they were able to find some keys in a desk drawer and used them,” he included.

Police tracked among the taken vehicles, a Durango Hellcat SRT valued at about $100,000, to a suburban area northwest of Detroit. The motorist had actually crashed into a brick wall while running away. A 2021 Dodge Durango GT, 2021 Dodge Ram TRX and a 2017 Dodge Charger Hellcat SRT were later on recuperated.

Authorities jailed 4 individuals. They were not thought to have actually taken the cars, however to have actually paid $5,000 for one.

“In the Detroit area they are selling them for like $3,500,” Hanna stated. “Once they get that money in their pockets they go out and steal another one.”

For dealers and their insurer, the expense is high. Even recuperated cars can’t be cost what they were as soon as worth.

Schneider stated his dealer developed an “old school” option: parking boots.

“It’s a deterrent that works amazingly,” he stated. “We put boots on all the Hellcats.”


News and digital media editor, writer, and communications specialist. Passionate about social justice, equity, and wellness. Covering the news, viewing it differently.

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