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It’s one of the worst nightmares for a car person: discovering that your beloved car is no longer where you parked it. Unfortunately, car theft is not just limited to privately owned vehicles. Criminals are also ransacking dealerships for precious inventory on a daily basis, and the thieves are getting more and more creative. Car thieves are using special devices and manipulating key fobs to steal cars right from the dealers. 

How are the car thieves stealing vehicles from dealerships? 

Car thieves are manipulating key fobs to steal dealership vehicles
A door handle of a keyless entry vehicle | Harold Cunningham, Getty Images

For a long time, older cars were the most accessible and most advantageous for thieves to steal. Vehicles like the early 2000s Ford full-size pickup trucks are so easy to steal that criminals could make off with them in seconds. However, with the advent of newer and more advanced technology, some criminals have stepped up their process to better steal the latest and greatest cars. 

In Schaumburg, Illinois, some car thieves have gone as far as to simply move the safes containing the keys to where they can access new keyless entry vehicles. While that may seem like a practical move, some criminals use advanced tools meant for modern locksmiths. Specifically, manufacturers designed the tools to help professionals gain access to accidentally locked cars. However, with car thieves getting their hands on the devices, entering and operating new vehicles is a relatively easy task. 

Which cars are thieves taking?

Car thieves are manipulating key fobs to steal dealership cars
New dealership cars are a target for thieves | Joel Lerner, Getty Images

In short, any car with keyless entry and push-button start is an easy target for thieves. In the case of the dealership in Schaumburg, a couple of strong opportunists dragged the safe containing the key fobs close enough to access the cars. Then, given push-button keyless starting, as long as the key is nearby, starting the vehicle is as easy as pushing a button. 

In the case of the Ziegler Automotive Group, criminals were using the locksmith tools to access any vehicle with remote access. Furthermore, using the devices allows car thieves to access vehicles parked in lots outside. In one case, a criminal used a locksmith’s tool to enter and steal a new Chevrolet Corvette C8 in seconds. 

Why are these vehicles being stolen?

Car thieves are manipulating key fobs to steal dealership vehicles
A Mercedes-Benz car key with remote capability | Uli Deck, Getty Images

Karianne Thomas of Ziegler Automotive Group told ABC7 Chicago that the vehicles are a means to an end. “Our cars are stolen to commit other crimes [and] recovered at crime scenes,” Thomas told the interviewer. Further, Ziegler Automotive Group has recovered six out of seven recently stolen vehicles. Authorities recovered the vehicles after car thieves used them in crimes. To add to the headache, the cars were in bad shape after Ziegler got them back. 

How are dealerships protecting inventory?  

Some dealerships have devised strategies to thwart the brazen thefts. For example, one dealership has started parking vans around the perimeter of the car lot. The dealerships intend to use the vans to limit thieves’ access and escape. Additionally, a Chevrolet dealership has installed extra lighting and cameras in the lots to deter criminals. 

Scroll down to the following article to read more about the most stolen and recovered cars in the United States. 

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