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Hot cars, hot targets: Police fight to curb Dodge Charger thefts

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Posted at 4:42 PM, May 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-12 18:33:35-04

(WXYZ) — A metro Detroit mom recently woke up to a Ring doorbell alert when a man was casing her brand new Dodge Charger. She called police and they tell us it's just the latest ring of thieves targeting these hot cars.

7 Action News reporter Jim Kiertzner has been digging on this issue for more than a year — it's a battle over technology and tenacity.

We're concealing the mom's identity, because she says she doesn't want to be targeted again. She has since moved her car to the backyard to prevent it from being stolen.

The new car, she says, was just what she wanted — the horsepower and the hot color. She had been told she might have her car stolen in seconds. And that video she was able to capture says to her, they mean business.

“Then I saw a ski mask, I said, 'wow they’re coming to get the car,'” she said.

The head of the Macomb County Auto Theft Squad works undercover and didn't want to be identified.

“You know, it is an epidemic. It is an epidemic,” he said. "It’s been the Dodge Chrysler's Challengers, Jeeps, and Durangos ..."

And the Chargers. 7 Action News first reported on the growing incidents last year after a state police bulletin was issued detailing the ease of duplicating key fobs.

They've been stolen right off the lot where Dodge Ram pickups are made, Sterling Heights assembly while people are working. The company now says the key fobs were inside the vehicles when they were stolen.

"Employee cars and brand new cars, they're very brazen," he said.

And once they hit the streets, the race is on. Dash cam video shows a chase on Mound Road, heading south from Hall Road. Police back off when speeds hit 80 miles per hour.

"Very rarely are they going to stop for a marked police car ... they’re very fast powerful cars," our source said.

Police said there are organized rings with a leader at the top and middlemen — and that they recruit and train young people how to do the thefts.

Suspects drive high-end vehicles through dealer's showroom glass; owner addresses key fob issue

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The cars have also been stolen in seconds right from dealers. There was one instance in 2020 in Fenton — and earlier this year, M-59 Dodge in Highland had four cars stolen right out of the showroom window. They now lock them up with boot.

Stellantis tells 7 Action News in a statement in part that they're installing new security measures to stop thefts including a 4-digit code that has to be entered to drive.