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Five vehicles, six weeks

Hundreds of lock boxes, once used on vehicles at Wilhelm Chevrolet Buick GMC of Jamestown, have been taken out of commission and will be discarded after five vehicles were reported stolen in the last few weeks. John M. Steiner / The Sun1 / 2
Rod Wilhelm, left, and Tom Wilhelm of Wilhelm Chevrolet Buick GMC, visit Monday about the rash of vehicles that have been stolen recently from the Jamestown automobile dealer. Keys from automobiles that were once kept in lock boxes on the individual vehicle are piled on a conference table. The dealership, and others, will no longer use a lockbox system. John M. Steiner / The Sun2 / 2

When a vehicle was stolen off the lot at the Wilhelm Chevrolet Buick GMC dealership in Jamestown on May 3, Rod Wilhelm and Tom Wilhelm said they thought it was just a one-time thing.

After the fifth vehicle was stolen in six weeks, they know that is not the case.

"We kept saying after the first or second one was taken 'they're done,'" Rod Wilhelm said. "But then they kept coming back. I haven't heard of any other dealers in town getting hit like this."

He said one of the stolen vehicles had 3,000 miles put on it in two days. Vehicles were recovered in Mandan and Devils Lake. One of the vehicles, a 2007 three-quarter ton pickup truck, has not been found.

"We're asking people to keep an eye out." Rod Wilhelm said. "If you see something, say something."

Jamestown Chief of Police Scott Edinger said Monday that the department is investigating the theft of five vehicles taken off the lot at the Wilhelm dealership. He said the criminal activity was likely done by more than one person. He said he couldn't comment on the specifics of this case as it is part of an ongoing investigation.

Edinger said he didn't think Jamestown has seen this many vehicle thefts off of one dealership lot in such a short period of time.

"We've seen where dealers have been hit multiple times and had multiple vehicles taken," he said. "We've never seen this many vehicles taken in such a condensed time frame."

Edinger said the Police Department is patrolling the auto dealership lots more often, but realistically a police officer would have to have some luck to catch someone in the act of stealing a vehicle off of a lot while he or she is on patrol.

Tom Wilhelm said the thieves used metal cutters to cut open lock boxes attached to vehicles in the dealership's new and used vehicle lots. The lock boxes contain each vehicle's keys.

"They (the vehicle thieves) were cutting them off with tin snips," he said, "busting them off, drilling them, getting the key then off they go."

Rod Wilhelm said one of the vehicles at the dealership had a lock box that was cut. He said he decided to keep the car out on the lot, rather than move it into a locked warehouse.

"We came in the next day, it was gone," he said,

Tom Wilhelm said the dealership has removed the lock boxes from all of their vehicles. He said they will keep the keys in a secure location.

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454