Thieves are visiting Madison County, Illinois, car dealerships, but they’re leaving the cars alone and stealing the dealer license plates.
“It'll just amaze you that they just have no regard for surveillance cameras. They just do it in daylight,” said Brian Trust with Trust Family Auto Sales in Godfrey.
Trust said the night of Thursday, April 19, his surveillance cameras caught a man scope out a Mercedes for sale in his lot.
Hours later on Friday morning, that man returned with two others in the same metallic colored Mercury Grand Marquis. The video shows the man steal two of Trust’s dealer plates that morning off the Mercedes and a van.
“It's pretty frustrating because we pay a pretty good fee just to have a dealer’s plate and dealer’s insurance so it’s a little disturbing,” said Trust.
Trust has shared the video on social media and appreciates all the tips he’s been getting. He’s also learned he’s not the only target.
“I know personally the vehicle we have out on social media right now has accounted for about six different lots all in the same 24 hours,” said Trust.
About two miles away the surveillance cameras at Quality Buick GMC Cadillac in Alton caught what looks like the same Mercury with three people steal a license plate that same night.
“The female went right to the license plate. The two males pretended to take pictures of the car and she was there right in front of the road and got down with the screwdriver and took the plate off,” said Chad Stevenson with Quality Buick GMC Cadillac.
Stevenson said they’ve had eight sets of plates stolen within the past two months, which is extremely uncommon.
Now the dealers are offering rewards for information that leads to catching these crooks.
“Let them get captured, let justice be served,” said Trust.
Madison County investigators said they are looking into the Trust Family Auto Sales theft. They said this is a growing problem where people are stealing dealer plates and then selling them or trading them for drugs.
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