NOBLESVILLE, Ind. – A handful of car dealership owners around the metro area say they’ve all been targeted by the same thief.
On Tuesday, Noblesville Imports owner Jeff Long said a man came to his dealership wanting to test drive a car. The man told staff he was a fellow car dealership owner looking to test a car for a client. He drove a car with dealer plates, parked it in Long's lot, and presented dealership staff with an ID. It all seemed “normal” at first.
“So, I went out to meet him and shake his hand, told him to ‘enjoy his test drive and let me know what you think,’” Long said.
But 20 minutes later, Long said the man hadn’t returned and the car he drove to the dealership was also gone.
“It was gone in a flash,” Long said.
After contacting the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, Long later posted about the incident on Facebook. He soon found that other car dealership owners had experienced identical situations.
“It got out there, the message got out there and some owners were hit the next day and texted me the picture of the license he used and I did confirm it was the same guy,” he said.
Long found out that the thief had visited multiple metro area dealerships including Indy’s K Auto LLC and Madison Auto Sales. Surveillance video from the K Auto showed a man in a grey hoodie and black pants requesting to test drive a car. The owner said he later got away with a Dodge Dart.
The man attempted the same thing at Madison Auto Sales, however operations manager Mohamed Toumi noticed the man presented the dealership with what looked like a fake ID and wouldn’t let him test drive a car alone.
“And I looked at him and I told him the ID doesn’t look like you, and he said this is me 12 years ago and I was like nah that’s not you,” Toumi said.
Toumi said he noticed the man traveled with a “partner,” who he believes acts as a getaway driver of the thief’s original car once the test drive begins. He believes his suspicions likely saved the dealership from becoming the thieves’ next target.
As for Long, he says he wants three things: for other dealers to be more cautious with their test drive policies, for the people behind the thefts to go to jail, and he wants his car back.
“We are on the hook. We are liable. We are responsible. So, it’s really up to us as dealers to come up with preventative measures so this doesn’t happen again,” he said.
The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and IMPD confirm they are looking into the thefts. So far, they yet to identify any suspects.