TORRANCE (CBS) — Drivers of sport utility vehicles in Torrance are being increasingly victimized by a bizarre type of theft.
Torrance police say thieves have stolen the third row seats from 10 SUV’s this month. Many of the thefts took place while the vehicles were parked in shopping centers and business parking lots.
In a podcast video, Lt. Mark Athan said, “Normally the advice we give for auto burglaries is to not leave anything that looks enticing in plain view in your car. But this is a seat.”
According to the Torrance PD, all of the SUV’s targeted were manufactured by General Motors. Vehicle models include the Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, and GMC Yukon and Suburban.
Investigators believe the thieves work in crews, stealing the seats to sell to body shops and aftermarket retailers, who then sell them to retail customers and — ironically — insurance companies seeking replacement seats. Officials say this is a very lucrative business.
Police believe at least seven of the 10 thefts this month in Torrance were likely committed by the same crew of suspects.
Sergeant Steven Jenkinson says third row seat thefts are now a common occurrence throughout Los Angeles County. Torrance has seen an increase in these thefts each month since October.
Police suggest drivers park their vehicles in well-lit areas, close to businesses or other locations where vehicle or pedestrian traffic is heavy.