Parts unknown – WPD searching for culprits in theft of auto parts

Saturday, August 1, 2009
By Cary Shuman

By Joseph Domelowicz Jr.

For the Transcript

A rash of auto parts thefts from motor vehicles in town this past weekend has local police concerned about a possible auto parts ring operating in the area.

According to Acting Police Chief Terence Delehanty, three cars were reported to police as having missing parts over the weekend, and though police feel that two of the incidents may be related, they are working with the State Police Auto Theft Task Force to determine if the incidents are related to a wider ring of auto parts thefts that have been occurring throughout the region and in Boston.

Due to the type of car and the parts stolen in the third incident, it appears to be unrelated to the other two cases, but may still be related to a larger “chop shop” enterprise as well.

“We are working with the Auto Theft Task Force, but in order to solve this type of crime, we need the participation of the entire community,” said Delehanty. “If residents see people working on their cars late at night, they should not assume that it is the owner of the vehicle, and we ask that all residents be alert and call the department when they see suspicious activity.”

Delehanty added, two of the thefts involved stolen auto parts taken from Honda Civics. In the first case, the car battery and some wires were reported missing from a car on Sea Foam Avenue. In the second case, a radiator hose was reported missing from a car in the area of 1062 Shirley Street, and other damage was also reported to the car. According to reports, the other damage appears to be related to the thief’s attempts to disconnect the hose.

“In the first two incidents, we have Honda Civics, and from what we’ve been able to learn from the task force, Hondas in general are a favorite target of auto parts thieves, because there are so many of them,” said Delehanty. “At this point, I do believe that these two incidents are related, but I do not think they are necessarily related to any operating parts ring.”

Delehanty noted that the relatively low cost of the parts taken makes it likely that the parts were stolen by a car owner who needed them to get his own vehicle working.

“They appear to be crimes of opportunity, and in a bad economy, you do tend to see more of these types of crimes,” said Delehanty.

The third incident was reported on Highland Avenue, where the front bumper and a hood ornament were taken from a BMW.

“The third incident doesn’t appear to be related to the others, because of the nature of the parts taken and the fact that the vehicle was a high-end automobile,” said Delehanty. “Usually, that is indicative of a parts rings or a chop shop that may be operating in the area.”

Delehanty noted that whether or not the three crimes are related, police are asking all residents to be aware of suspicious activity, such as people working on cars late at night, and all residents are asked to contact police if they see anything they feel is unusual or inconsistent in their neighborhoods.

“We do have active investigations into all three of these incidents. The initial reports have been filed, and the detectives division is reviewing the cases, but there was not much at the scene of the incidents that is likely to help those investigations,” said Delehanty. “If anyone has information about any of these crimes, we ask that they contact the Winthrop Police Detectives Bureau. I would also take this opportunity to remind everyone to lock their vehicles and enable car alarms if you have one. These are the types of protective measures that most of us forget to do over time, and during a bad economy is not the time for us to be lazy.”

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