Thieves stealing cars to go commit more serious crimes is a problem Kansas City, MO, police are facing in the Northland, and a large number of the stolen cars all trace back to one business.
It's not hard to steal a car if the doors are left unlocked and the keys are left on the floorboard - it makes it pretty attractive for car thieves looking to go on a crime spree.
"It's basically the hot spot for cars to be stolen," Sgt. Danny Graves with the KCMO Police Department said.
The "it" he's referring to is the KC Auto Auction located across the street from Worlds of Fun. It auctions vehicles to dealerships from all over, but not everyone who drives off the lot is paying for their new wheels.
"We dump a lot of resources in this area. It's been what we consider a target area for more than a year," Graves said.
In 2012, 340 autos were stolen in the Shoal Creek Patrol Division. More than 40 were from the lot at KC Auto Auction. Since Dec. 8, 14 cars have been stolen from there. But police said it's not the stolen car cases that keeps them busy - it's what the criminals do once they are in a stolen car that can't be traced back to them.
"We've got individuals that are tied to stolen autos that are going out robbing and shooting and burglarizing, doing whatever. If they get involved in a hit-and-run, they don't care. They leave the car and, if they are chased by police, they will dump the car," Graves said.
KC Auto Auction General Manager Peggy Springer said it's an issue they have been working to address. But, according to Springer, it's the dealers who are leaving the cars unsecured and a majority of the vehicles stolen were not sold by KC Auto Auction - instead, dealers left cars from other auctions on their lot to be picked up later.
Springer said they have two secured lots and encourages customers not to leave cars in the front lot where anyone can, and often will, get to them.
Police said, either way, the ease with which the thieves are getting these stolen cars is creating a problem for the public.
"They are going to use this device, this car, this tool to go burglarize your home, to rob your businesses or prey on somebody else," Graves said.
Springer said they are working with police and will continue to warn customers not to leave cars in the front lot.
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