Monday, June 25, 2007

More trucks stolen from raceway lot

HAZEL PARK -- Large concrete block barriers served as insurmountable blockades for about six months against thefts of new Chrysler vehicles stored at the Hazel Park Harness Raceway. But this month, thieves have found ways to circumvent the security measure.

Thieves on Wednesday stole three new Dodge Ram pickup trucks by ramming a guard's vehicle stationed at a gate along 10 Mile. On June 2, thieves fastened a steel chain to a concrete barrier and pulled it aside for an escape by four vehicles.

"They knocked the vehicle out of the way and fled," said Hazel Park Detective Lt. Michael Kolp about the latest thefts. "No one was hurt. The guard was visibly shaken at the scene, but not injured."

The ramming vehicle fled west on 10 Mile, while two other new Dodge Ram pickup trucks escaped east on 10 Mile.

Police pursued the westbound vehicle south on I-75 and west on Eight Mile where it went out of control and crashed at Woodward in Ferndale, Kolp said.

Police and a K-9 tracking team attempted to follow the driver who ran from the vehicle but wasn't caught, Kolp said.

However, Kolp said police are processing possible evidence from the abandoned vehicle.

"In my opinion, they need a safeguard to make the vehicles more secure," Kolp said about security at the race track. He declined to give more details for fear of tipping off would-be car thieves. Track officials couldn't be reached for comment.

Kolp doesn't believe the thefts involve inside help from a private security force patrolling parts of the track's approximately 120 acres where new Chrysler products are stored.

Backing his theory, Kolp added, is that a security guard shot and wounded one person in a fleeing vehicle in early 2005, plus the latest culprit had to ram a security vehicle to make an escape.

"More than likely it is a group of young people who have the means to sell wheels and radios for quick money," Kolp said. "Those are the main things we find missing."

Thefts of multiple new Chrysler vehicles from the race track have occurred at least five times since 2005, police said.

Kolp said a 17-year-old and a boy were caught following the June 2 thefts.

The large concrete barriers last December were placed around the fence on the east side along Dequindre and north side at 10 Mile at the race track where numerous Chrysler vehicles have been stored for more than five years.

At the time, track security director Peter Marvin said the track leased parking to Chrysler which provides security for the storage lots. Chrysler also paid for the installation of the concrete barriers, he said.

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