TORRANCE (CBSLA.com) – Authorities say at least 15 people have been arrested in the theft of approximately 40 cars from a Torrance dealership.
According to Torrance and Redondo Beach police, over a period of several weeks, multiple cars were stolen from a former Costco parking lot that is used as overflow storage for Nissan and Infiniti of South Bay. The stolen cars were then used for other crimes, police said.
Barry Wishengrad, managing partner for Nissan and Infiniti of South Bay, told KCAL9 Monday that investigators told him some of the stolen cars were used in a police chase in which two accused gang members were arrested. Guns and drugs were found in the car.
“They apparently told other gangs about, as they called it, ‘easy pickings,’” Wishengrad said. “And next thing we knew, we had other gangs trying to steal the cars.”
The lot holds about 500 cars. Beginning about six weeks ago, gang members gradually stole dozens of them.
“I’ve been in this industry for 30-some-odd years, I’ve had a car or two stolen, never to this level or this degree,” Wishengrad said.
Police said the gang members broke into lockboxes, took car keys and just drove away. At least 15 people have been arrested and 25 cars have been recovered in connection with the thefts. Some stolen car were untouched and can be resold, police said. Others were stripped down for parts.
Thieves even targeted one car that was parked directly in front of a dealership.
“Every vehicle is now equipped with a tracking device,” Wishengrad said. “When the cars move, we’ll find you. Don’t take my cars.”
There will also be armed security on the lot, along with a weekly inventory to ensure no more cars disappear.