Law enforcement officers in Michigan arrested four men linked to the theft of four vehicles from a Dodge and Ram dealership about an hour away from Detroit. All four cars were later recovered, but a rare 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat was damaged after it hit a wall.
Police officers were dispatched to Szott M-59 Dodge Ram in Highland Charter Township, Michigan, to investigate the theft of four cars: the aforementioned Durango, a 2021 Durango GT, a 2021 Ram 1500 TRX, and a 2017 Dodge Charger Hellcat. The combined value of these four cars is estimated at $329,000, according to The Detroit News. Investigators say that two of the vehicles were driven straight off the showroom floor through a glass door, which somewhat ironically is how Jeep presented the first-generation Grand Cherokee in 1992.
Officers said several of the dealership's doors were damaged, an office had been rummaged through, and a cabinet where key fobs were stored had been opened. The last point presumably explains how the thieves managed to drive off in the cars.
Still, according to The Detroit News, the Oakland County Sheriff's auto theft unit located the Durango SRT (pictured) in Birmingham. Officers tried to stop the SUV, but the driver crashed into a brick wall, causing significant damage to at least the front and the driver-side panels. Inside, they found three men from Detroit ages 19, 20 and 32; two were wearing what the publication describes as balaclava-style masks. They also uncovered $5,800 in cash, a loaded semi-automatic handgun, and a device capable of reprogramming a car's key fob. The three men were arrested, and a fourth person — a 15-year-old brother of one of the suspects — was later arrested in Detroit.
Police officers say the men they arrested weren't the ones who stole the cars. Instead, police say, these men paid the thieves $5,000 for one of the cars, though there's no word on what they were planning to do with a 710-horsepower SUV, masks, a loaded handgun, and a big wad of cash. The second Durango, the TRX, and the Charger were later recovered in Detroit and in Livonia. Nonprofit organization Crime Stoppers of Michigan urged anyone with information about the thefts to get in touch and offered a $1,000 reward for information.
Going straight to the source to steal a car (or parts of a car) isn't as unusual as it might sound. In 2019, thieves stole 124 wheels in one night from a Chevrolet dealership in Louisiana. And, a year earlier, eight Ram trucks were stolen straight from the factory that builds them in Warren, Michigan. Investigators said the thieves cut a hole through the fence to get in and drove the trucks out via the main gate.