A man and a woman stole two luxury cars from a dealership Feb. 24 and Santa Monica’s chief of police said such thefts have become more frequent.
The pair were caught on surveillance camera jumping over a fence around a West Los Angeles storage lot of Major Motors, a Santa Monica car dealership, and driving off in a BMW and a Mercedes-Benz worth a combined $150,000. They had visited the dealership a few days earlier to test drive one of the cars.
Jason Yorker, the dealership’s vice president of sales, told KTLA the man said he came from Colorado, had just signed a record deal and wanted to buy a sports car. He displayed about $10,000 in cash and said he would return in a few days to buy a BMW.
The man left a stolen Honda with a Colorado license plate across the street from the dealership after stealing the luxury cars, Yorker said.
The pair drove the car to Arizona and local police pursued the vehicle into Utah, according to SMPD. They crashed the vehicle and Utah police pursued them on foot and took them into custody.
SMPD police chief Cynthia Renaud said at a Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. board meeting last Thursday that the theft of cars from dealership lots has become more common since she stepped into the role last May. The department has not seen such an uptick in dealership thefts since the 1990s, she said.
Several cars have been stolen from dealerships because they were left unlocked, Renaud said, and SMPD is urging dealers to secure their inventory. Cars that have been recovered have not been stripped, she added.
“We’re reaching out to dealerships to let them know not to leave keys to their cars readily accessible and change their practice of how people access their vehicles, with the understanding that they’re trying to run a business where people test drive cars,” said SMPD Lt. Saul Rodriguez.