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Fort Lauderdale Police launch campaign to curb car thefts



FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. – Fort Lauderdale Police have launched a new campaign this week to curb the rising amount of vehicle thefts in the city and surrounding neighborhoods.

Signs posted on the side of roadways throughout the city on Wednesday ask residents to check for the key fobs to their vehicles.

“This is a prime spot here because, as you can see, there is a retaining wall that you may not be able to see the suspect vehicle pull up,” Fort Lauderdale Police detective Tim Shields said. “Our suspects would normally drive down the streets like this, and then, you’ll see this next house here. Here is a very nice Bentley.”

Thieves have targeted several high-end homes and vehicles over the past few weeks.

Cameras captured a Bentley’s side mirrors tucked in, which means the car is locked and secure, but a Porsche parked next to it may be targeted because its mirrors were not folded inwards.

“The suspect car will maybe park out of sight,” Shields said. “The suspect will walk up really quickly, and then, five or six seconds, they see if the car was left secure or unsecure.”

Shields added suspects search for key fobs left inside of the car if it is left unlocked.

John O’Flaherty’s BMW was stolen about two months ago.

“It was Friday at like three o’clock in the afternoon when it happened,” he said. “I saw it on the camera on my security, and they were– car drives by, stops, backs up. They spotted the mirrors that were not folded in. Guy jumps out of the car. He’s in my car, in my driveway, peels out in like five seconds.”

Key fob auto thefts have risen recently. According to police, the crooks steal the cars, and within a few days, they resell the vehicles.

“You got to make contact with what they refer to on the street as a ‘plug,’” Shields said. “The plug is the next guy in line that they’re going to buy the car from that will then, more than likely, re-VIN the car and take the process either through a salvage title or re-VIN with a fraudulent, bogus VIN number and title. Then, that car will be sold on the street to another individual.”

Police have made several arrests relating to these auto thefts, including Henry Lee Lewis on Feb. 6, who stands accused of kidnapping, robbing and killing a real estate agent on Feb. 1. When he was arrested, police said the 15-year-old was caught hunting for cars with key fobs inside.

“It couldn’t be easier, and as the little slogan says, just get in your car, ask yourself, ‘Where’s your fob?’” O’Flaherty said. “Don’t take it out of your pocket and secure your car, and I just want to help anybody else out that’s going through this and avoid it for the future.”

A rise in auto thefts contributes to a rise in crime rate, which may cause residents’ insurance policies to also increase.

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