You can’t get much more brazen than this: Stealing five cherry Camaros from a Rivers Avenue car dealership, including one taken from inside the showroom.
To offer tips
Anyone with information on the thefts should call Crime Stoppers at 554-1111.
An ambitious heist has authorities scouring the region for a fleet of high-profile but AWOL vehicles taken last weekend from Crews Chevrolet in North Charleston.
Each apparently was driven off the lot by a different driver in a theft that probably took just moments to execute.
Total value of the haul — more than $240,000.
There is a bit of good news. The rarest of the cars, a red 2013 ZL1 with a 550-horsepower engine, was recovered in the parking lot of a Lexington County hospital a short while later.
The $62,000 car was only slightly damaged on the rear bumper.
Its mileage indicator was at 114, meaning the car was probably driven straight to Lexington to be dropped off or abandoned. It also carried a license plate reported stolen from Summerville.
In the meantime, the Crews dealership is trying to figure out how the caper was pulled off, and where the missing four cars might be.
“I’ve heard probably 30 different scenarios,” said Ken French, marketing and events director at the dealership at 8199 Rivers Ave.
One of the theories is that the cars might have been put on a container ship and sent overseas, he said.
The thefts were detected early Monday when employees arrived and discovered that the dealership’s recently arrived 2013 ZLI (painted Victory Red at the factory) was missing from the showroom floor.
No marks were found on the door that the thieves used to get inside.
“The exit point was through the same east side double doors that entry was made,” a North Charleston police incident report said.
The crooks probably arrived after dark Sunday into Monday. Employees also found that a key safe had been pried open and four other cars, all 2012 Camaros, were missing as well.
They were a yellow 2012 1SS coupe, a red 2012 1SS coupe, a white 2012 2SS coupe and a black 2012 1SS convertible.
Each has a sales price of around $45,000.
“They’re hot cars,” meaning hot as in fast, French said, with horsepowers well above 400.
North Charleston police spokesman Spencer Pryor said Friday that the case is still in the investigative stage and that detectives have not identified a suspect or suspects.
“Nothing at this time indicates that this may be a part of a theft ring, but investigators are looking at every angle of the theft,” he said.
One hurdle to finding the cars is that the OnStar vehicle locators built into each one were apparently disarmed, French said.
It is also possible that the dealership was scouted out for details in advance.
“In today’s world we have people looking at cars 24 hours a day,” French said.
The ZLI Camaro was recovered Monday when public safety officers at Lexington County Medical Center saw the vehicle parked and unattended in the hospital’s parking lot. It has since been returned to Crews for repair.
The car is considered rare in the marketplace, since there are only two others like it in South Carolina, according to the incident report.
French said he hopes that when the vehicles are found, they are recovered in one piece. “The cars are so nice, you hope that they weren’t being sold for parts,” he said.