Southampton Town police are issuing a dire warning to owners of late-model Mercedes Benz and Range Rovers: If you like your car, lock it—even when you are parking it on your own property.
Since January, 12 such vehicles have been stolen from outside private residences from Sagaponack to Tuckhoe, six this month alone. The thieves are using car key fobs left in the vehicles to start them and drive away.
Similar thefts have occurred in recent years.
According to Lt. Detective Susan Ralph, there is a red flag that tells the thieves which cars to target. When one of these late-model vehicles is locked, and the owner walks away with the fob, the side mirrors contract. In other words, if the mirrors are out, the car is unlocked and the fob may be inside it.
Police released two videos, showing the same man from different angles. The video is dated July 11, at 5:28 a.m. The man, who is tall and thin, is seen in one video jogging at a good pace uphill on a long driveway from the street. He gets to what is described at the top of the video as the rear parking area, apparently to a high-end residence.
On the left is the garage to the residence. On the right, in the overflow parking area for the residence are two late-model Range Rovers and one Mercedes. The front door to one of the Range Rovers is wide open when the man arrives.
He gets inside, shuts the door, starts the engine, then backs the vehicle all the way down the long driveway.
Detective Ralph said that on two occasions, two thieves showed up at other residences, each making off with their stolen high-end prize parked there, unlocked.
In the video, the man running appears to know exactly where he is going. Ralph said that this is a very organized group.
The message the detective wants the public to hear is simple: lock your cars, even if you think it is safe because it is parked outside a seemingly well-protected residence. She also encourages parking in areas of a property watched over by surveillance cameras.
In addition, when owners of these high-end residences have guests, they should warn them to lock their cars.
Ralph said she believes these thieves will be caught, in due time, due to the work of the Southampton Town detective squad, as well as the work of the patrol officers.
That said, there is no reason to make the job of car thieves easier.