Highland Township dealership targeted in string of car electronics thefts

Thieves steal radios with navigation systems from Chrysler cars

HIGHLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A Highland Township car dealership was shocked to discover that professional thieves feasted on the electronics from dozens of vehicles during Memorial Day weekend.

Police said the break-ins were the latest in a string of car robberies over the past few months. Chrysler has been targeted by thieves who figured out they can steal the big-screen radios that come with navigation systems.

Szott M-59 Dodge of Highland Township was the latest dealership to get hit by the thieves, and owner Thad Szott is devastated.

"It's shocking," Szott said. "They got around all our internal processes and got through 58 vehicles with no trace. It had to be a professional ring of some sort."

Szott believes a sizable crew moved quickly and stealthily overnight Sunday into Monday morning to break out rear passenger windows and jump inside the tight space to avoid setting off car alarms.

"They had to remove part of the dash and then they have to either pull the radio and unplug them or pull them off in a hurry and slice the wires, so some were pulled and some were sliced," Szott said.

There were more broken windows than there were stolen radios, and the total damage was worth around $250,000.

Police said the thieves have recently hit two other dealerships in the area and even some vehicles that were parked in driveways around Metro Detroit.

"We need everybody focused on movin' and groovin', selling cars and servicing cars and, certainly, you walk into something like this, (it's) not what any small business owner wants to walk into," Szott said.

The dealership doesn't have a parking lot surveillance camera system, but Szott had been hiring security to patrol the yards every couple of nights as a deterrent. He said the thieves knew it was an off night.

Getting the dealership back to normal is expected to take a month.

There's a $6,500 reward being offered for any information that leads to an arrest -- $4,000 from the Szott dealership and the rest from Crime Stoppers. Anyone with information is asked to call the Oakland County Sheriff's Office or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.

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