INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A recent increase in vehicle thefts has prompted a warning from police, specifically for owners of Ford F-250 pickup trucks.
A Tuesday Facebook post from IMPD points out that “several Ford F250 pickup trucks have been stolen recently,” and offered tips on how to protect your property.
Tips include never leaving keys in the ignition or in the console, never leaving tools or valuables in the vehicle, and always keeping the vehicle locked.
But Indianapolis Firefighter, Matt Bennett, says his F-250 was locked when it was stolen from his southeast side home on May 9. Thieves managed to break into the truck, start it and drive it off before leaving it abandoned in an empty lot in the 1300 block of Tibbs Avenue.
When Bennett’s truck was found, he says there wasn’t much left of it.
“It looked like it fell off a cliff,” he said. “The front end was cut off of it, motor, transmission was gone, doors were gone. The only thing left in it were the seats.”
Making matters worse, Bennett’s firefighting gear inside the truck was also stolen, including his boots, leather helmet, mask and other equipment.
The Indianapolis Fire Department says Bennett filed a police report and followed proper procedure. Some of the gear has been recovered, but Bennett’s badge and ID are still missing. IFD says those items are marked with serial numbers, which are being closely tracked.
An undercover IMPD detective, who asked not to be identified, says car and truck thieves have gotten very good at getting into locked pickup trucks and quickly driving off with them.
“These people manipulate the locks on these trucks, then they manipulate the column with a screw driver and a hammer,” the detective said.
“I’ve had people tell me they can do it in 20 seconds,” he said.
The detective, who has personally recovered 67 stolen trucks since 2015, says he has seen an increase in such thefts in the last few months. Much of that could be driven by supply and demand, he said. There is high black market demand for Ford F-250 and F-350 parts in places like Texas and Mexico. He believes an increase in that demand could be driving up theft cases in central Indiana.
“These Ford F-250s and 350s have diesel engines in them,” he said. “And on the street, you can sell a diesel engine for about $4,000.”
The detective says people with drug habits often steal the trucks as a way to make quick money.
“I can go steal a truck and sell it someone who wants the truck, and I can make 300 or 400 bucks,” he said.
The detective also points out that Ford pickup trucks don’t have OnStar tracking technology like Chevy trucks, making the Fords more difficult to locate after they are stolen.
“If you don’t have a garage and it’s parked in your driveway and they want it, they’re probably going to get it,” he said.
If you don’t have a garage to park your truck in, the detective recommends getting a GPS tracking device.
“Put a GPS on it, have the GPS hidden somewhere where it’s not in a normal location where a GPS would be,” the detective said.