Police in Pleasant Hill, with some apparent support from neighboring jurisdictions, interrupted a small squad of prospective burglars apparently after cars at the local CarMax lot Sunday – scattering the thieves and sending them running into surrounding neighborhoods.
As many as five people were believed involved and police apparently made at least one arrest, but the action was only the latest in a series of mass thefts aimed at securing high-priced, high-performance cars for personal use as well as for possible future criminal endeavor.
Carlos Hidalgo, who owns a Chrysler Dodge dealership in San Leandro, instructed employees to park in a defensive posture – and then flee – when looters turned their attention to his lot earlier this month, driving off in as many as 100 stolen cars – everything from Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcats, which start at $60,000, to trucks, Jeeps, and Chargers.
Cars taken in that theft have been “spotted” running all over Alameda and Contra Costa counties, and some are believed to have been used in some resultant crimes.
“We have trackers on them so we’re seeing which ones are out there,” Hidalgo said later. “They’re running around everywhere.”
The San Leandro mass heist, conducted at the height of widespread looting and vandalism seen after the alleged murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, was not a solitary occurrence, with apparently organized groups of burglars/thieves making their way onto local car lots and making off with several targeted cars in recent months.
Hidalgo said the thieves who came to his lot broke into the building, gained access to the lot’s key safe and then likely triggered car alarms to guide to them to the corresponding vehicle.
The thieves took nearly every high-end $100,000 Dodge Challenger Hellcat the dealership had in stock. One car placed defensively in the driveway to block cars was rammed out of the way. Another one on the showroom floor was driven right out the front window.