On Dec. 5, a Redondo Beach Police Department car chase ended in an arrest and the retrieval of a 2017 Infiniti Q60. The vehicle was from an overflow lot of about 650 vehicles for Infiniti of South Bay and Nissan of South Bay in Torrance, Calif.
Sgt. Shawn Freeman said the dealerships didn’t realize any vehicles were missing until police reported the stolen vehicle.
Police say they have arrested 15 people in connection with about 45 stolen vehicles from the Nissan and Infiniti overflow lot. Twenty-five vehicles have been returned, some missing parts.
The thieves stole the vehicles by breaking into the lockboxes and taking the keys.
Sgt. Paul Kranke, the Torrance Police Department’s public information officer, said the investigation is ongoing and it is unclear how many more people are involved and when they started stealing the vehicles. He said those arrested are gang members or their affiliates.
The stolen vehicles were sold to others, stripped for parts, ditched at crime scenes or simply used for joy rides. No particular model was targeted, Kranke said, adding that the thieves took “whatever they could get their hands on.”
Kranke said the Los Angeles Police Department has also helped recover several of the vehicles after police chases.
Barry Wishengrad, managing partner at the Nissan and Infiniti stores, said he didn’t know any vehicles were missing because they disappeared between inventory checks. He said that so many cars are on the lot, losing five or 10 at a time is difficult to notice.
Wishengrad said he hired 24-hour armed security for the lot and had a tracking device installed in every vehicle as soon as he learned vehicles had been stolen.
“It’s frustrating that people can just come in and break the lockboxes open and take the keys and steal your cars,” Wishengrad told Automotive News. “And thank God for the Redondo Beach police and the Torrance police. They were phenomenal at helping apprehend these people and phenomenal ever since.”
So far, Wishengrad said he may pay $25,000 to $30,000 in deductibles but he has not determined the total value of unreturned vehicles or stolen parts.