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Anchorage car dealerships plagued by recent spike in vehicle thefts

Published: May. 4, 2016 at 12:05 PM AKDT
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This story was first published March 31.

Vehicle thefts in Anchorage have spiked in recent months, costing local car dealerships tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes just to pay for increased security.

Troy Jarvis, the General Manager of Lithia Dodge Jeep of South Anchorage, says the dealership has updated security cameras, key machines, and has had to re-key many of their cars.

“We're talking 50, 60, 70 thousand dollars of that stuff,” Jarvis said. “On top of the damage that we've had to our vehicles or the missing vehicles that have not been recovered yet.”

Thieves have also stolen car keys from the dealership, sometimes by the dozens, Jarvis said.

“They'll steal the lockboxes, or steal the keys, and then come back at an opportune time to jump in and drive off," Jarvis said. “It's the most brazen crime spree I've ever seen. They're stealing cars during the day right in front of us. They have no fear whatsoever of coming on the lot, jumping in a car and driving right off the lot. They wave at our cameras as they drive off the lot.”

Anchorage District Attorney Clint Campion says there are larger public safety concerns involved with property crimes such as these.

“There also is a concern because people who are committing other crimes can disguise themselves and disguise their criminal activity because they're in a vehicle that they’re not necessarily associated with,” Campion told Channel 2.

Campion says the DA’s office is seeing an increase in the number of vehicle theft cases being prosecuted.

“We have 60 pending trials for felony vehicle theft,” Campion said Thursday afternoon. “In my opinion that's fairly significant in terms of numbers.”

But Jarvis, and many other dealerships, don’t feel officials are doing enough. That’s why they’ve created a $10,000 reward for information leading to a conviction for those responsible.

“We all need to keep our eyes and ears open, we need to ask our legislators and our police department and our district attorney to prosecute these as felonies,” Jarvis said.

Jarvis says there’s a lot of speculation that the crimes are the result of gang activity or organized crime.

“This is a major crime spree and if we don’t get together, it's going to get worse and I think people are becoming more and more afraid,” he said. “If there's no accountability when they get caught, it's just going to get worse.”

If you have any information about any thefts or other crimes, contact Anchorage Police at 786-8900.

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