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How 97 Cars Were Stolen During Quarantine In The Blink Of An Eye

If you’ve ever watched the movie Gone In 60 Seconds, you’ve probably realized how difficult it is to steal a massive amount of cars. While many countries have taken the tactic of asking citizens to quarantine, and overall many people have accepted their shelter in place orders, a select few have had other things in mind.

Some countries have taken the lockdown very seriously, and New Zealand is one of the. Among strict regulations on traveling outside of the house, criminals have taken to the streets and somehow managed to steal 97 cars in the blink of an eye.

These weren’t just 97 random cars parked along the street, or around town, either, these cars were all stolen from one place at one time, making it both more impressive and more concerning, because legal or not, moving almost 100 cars is a pretty big task.

A man walks on deserted Istiklal Street in Istanbul, Turkey

The cars were all stolen from a rental car lot in Auckland, New Zealand. It is also worth noting that Auckland is a major city in New Zealand, with a population stretching upwards of 1.7 million people in the city alone.

None of the cars were terribly interesting, as it would be hard to smuggle brighter colored cars that were easy to spot and more obviously out of place. Instead, the thieves stuck to more common cars that could blend in well and would be harder to identify as stolen. It’s the equivalent of stealing Honda Civics instead of Lamborghinis: while it might be more fun to reach for that bull-blazed key, it’s a lot easier to pick out of a crowd.

How the thieves did it

The thieves didn’t have to work hard to operate and drive off with the cars. In fact, there was not even so much as one car hotwired or any screwdrivers needed to turn them on, because the keys to each and every car had been conveniently left inside of the cars themselves.

Even more convenient was that the rental car company didn’t notice that the cars were missing for a number of days, giving the thieves more than just a few hours of peace before being reported to the police. With the quarantine, the business wasn’t renting out cars and had consequently minimized staffing, so while it isn’t outrageous that the almost 100 cars that had up and disappeared weren’t noticed, it’s still a little surprising.

And how they got caught

What made it so easy to get 97 cars out of the rental car lot was inevitably the thieves’ downfall. With almost no other traffic on the road, authorities were able to pay attention to what cars were out driving and this helped to quickly identify the stolen vehicles.

The rental car company was given several billboards of space to advertise the stolen cars and many people called in about seeing suspicious cars on the road or online for sale.

The police department claims that they have made 29 arrests for involvement with the car thefts, but they haven’t been able to retrieve all 97 of the stolen cars.