WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. — A disturbing trend involving thieves targeting used car dealers has hit a Wheat Ridge business.
In just under a week, thieves have escaped with several stolen vehicles from Rock Auto on West 44th Avenue, according to owner Dean Benallo.
The first theft happened early Tuesday morning. Thieves got away with a Ford pickup truck that was later spotted on Tower Road near the airport.
"We work real hard to get the inventory that we can, and whether or not we keep it is another question," Benallo said.
The second theft happened about 7 a.m. Friday morning in the daylight as rush-hour traffic drove past the lot.
In surveillance video Benallo showed Denver7, the thieves can be seen stealing a pickup truck, using it to push the car Benallo's team placed to block the exit of the lot and then using it to steal a boat on the lot.
"They took about 15 minutes to cut the lock, hook up the boat and they were out of here," Benallo said.
The brazenness of the theft has him worried about the next hit.
"That's the toughest thing because I can't continue to have vehicles stolen in a way that I provide for my family," he said.
The situation has gotten out of hand, Benallo says, as more vehicles on his lot have been stolen and damaged, and more catalytic converters have been stolen, in the last year and a half than in the previous five.
He believes his livelihood is now at risk.
"Getting hit as much as we're getting hit is just putting a hurt in on the business," he said.
Benallo has reported each theft to police, but there's not much they've been able to do, he says. Denver7 has reached out to Wheat Ridge Police for comment.
"If they do get caught, I believe they're typically out in a day or two," he said. "There's just no remorse for what they're doing."