VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Managers of car dealerships off Virginia Beach Boulevard are sounding the alarm after at least three cars were stolen right off their lots this past month. Two of them were in broad daylight.
The general manager of Shoreline Auto Center, Mike Carter, says his business was hit on Thursday — and surveillance cameras caught it all.
“About 11 o’clock in the morning yesterday, right in the middle of the day, we had a gentleman come in, a young male acting what I would call real squirrely, saying he wanted to look for a car. He was bouncing all around trying to fist bump me and my partner. We knew right away something wasn’t right,” said Carter.
Carter says he’d heard from other dealership friends that there were young people stealing cars after they were given the keys to look at one.
“We knew that’s what was going on and we were adamant we were not going to hand out any keys to this guy,” explained Carter.
Carter says the man didn’t have his license when asked for one and said he was waiting for his father to meet him there. He also gave them multiple fake numbers for contacts.
“He actually got upset with us because we kept asking questions. He says ‘I already told you these answers, why do you keep asking?’ Then we said ‘Well, the police have advised us to ask these questions identifying information because we’ve had some cars stolen up and down here lately,’ he goes, ‘Oh OK, sorry I got upset with you,'” Carter stated.
That’s when the man went outside, saying he needed to call his dad. Carter and his partner thought they’d successfully detoured the potential car thief, but they forgot about a 2007 Toyota RAV-4 they’d left running outside.
“We were so focused on this guy not getting any keys that we forgot this car was running, so as he said ‘This is my dad’ and he runs outside, I see him get in the car and he just bolts out of here,” said Carter.
Carter reported the incident to police, but the car has not been recovered yet.
About a half-mile up Virginia Beach Boulevard at Autoplex of Virginia Beach, there was a similar incident on Dec. 3.
The dealership President Mark Blumenthal says they’d just opened their doors, too.
“A young fella walks into the showroom with my salesperson, overly friendly, in fact, he asked me how my Thanksgiving was and before you know it, he asked the salesperson if he could go outside and have a few moments alone to Facetime his father. My salesperson handed him a key and a few moments later he sped out and stole our vehicle,” said Blumenthal.
Blumenthal says they chased the car down but ultimately lost sight of the 2009 Audi A3 — which still hasn’t been recovered.
10 On Your Side showed Blumenthal surveillance video from Shoreline Auto Center, and he says it appears to be the same guy.
“I’ve been doing this 38 years, I’ve never had it happen before. It’s violating and it affects the trust we have and in fact now we can’t hand a key to a client. My salesperson has to be with them,” he explained.
Blumenthal says police told him there had been six dealership car thefts lately. One of the other businesses that fell for the scheme was Car Choice, a few blocks up from Autoplex.
Darryl Evans, the general manager, says a young man with the same modus operandi stole a car from them about a week before that, the evening of Nov. 23.
This time, the man got away with a Lexus GS 350.
Evans gave us these photos they were able to capture of the suspect from that day.
He says the car was recovered two weeks ago at a Rally’s in Northampton.
We reached out to Virginia Beach police to confirm the details of their investigation but have not heard back yet.
If you have any information that could help police identify who this suspect, or suspects are, please contact them.
Those with information can submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-888-LOCK-U-UP, downloading the P3 tips app to a mobile device, or visiting www.P3tips.com and submitting a tip.