The summer heat can take a serious toll on your car. Between trips to the beach and visiting family, you may find yourself stranded on the side of the highway with a broken-down car on your hands. For those of you thinking of leaving your car on the side of the highway while searching for help, beware!
Car thieves are taking advantage of your bad luck and stealing broken-down cars from the interstate.
In a disturbing new trend occurring from Charlotte all the way to Atlanta, car thieves are targeting unattended cars on the side of highways in order to make some extra cash.
The problem started several months ago when people reported their cars had been stolen after only leaving them on the interstate in search of help for a few hours. Police discovered many crooks had the perfect disguise, because they were driving tow trucks.
A stranded individual in Atlanta left his vehicle to get help, only to return hours later and discover it hooked to the back of a tow truck and being driven away. He tried to chase the thieves, but lost them.
Police said that once the car has been taken, it is unlikely the owner will ever see it again.
Salvage Yards and recycling centers rarely ask to see car titles if the car is more than ten years old, making older cars on the side of the roads easy money for tow truck drivers. And in places like Charlotte, where junk yards are paying tow truck driver $13 dollars for every 100 pounds of car, it is easy to make a quick buck without risk of being caught.
The problem has become so bad that police have set up bait car stings along highways to catch thieves in the act. Investigators set up the bait cars along the interstate and wait for tow trucks to take them.
“Did you try to steal that car?” investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer for WSBTV in Atlanta asked Rodney Dickey, a tow truck driver fooled by a bait car.
“No. A customer called me to come pick the car up,” said Dickey.
But police said there couldn’t have been a real customer because the car is owned by law enforcement. Dickey was caught with it hooked up to his tow truck.
Although car crushers do help eliminate useless junk cars, accepting a car without a title encourages thieves from continuing to steal the cars.
Police warn that if your car breaks down, there isn’t a whole lot you can do because they will snatch the vehicle quickly. If you are forced to leave your car unattended on the highway for any length of time, make sure you know all the necessary information including license plate number, insurance and title info.