DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Four out of every 10 car thefts this year in Daytona Beach have something in common -- they were swiped off the lots of auto dealers. Now, the Auto Mall is forcing dealerships to be proactive and fight back for what's theirs.
"They were hitting us a couple times a week at one point," said Gary Yeomans, owner of several dealerships at the Auto Mall.
Yeomans said the break-ins are happening at several at his dealerships. Thieves are casing the lots in broad daylight, then finding the perfect opportunity to steal.
"They stole a car the other day using one of our stolen cars," said Yeomans.
Yeomans said they've already stepped up security around the clock and installed 62 additional cameras. However, with all that security, Daytona Beach Police said about 25 cars have disappeared from the Auto Mall since January of this year and it has nothing to do with the make or model -- it's the easy access to car keys.
"When something escalates from the experience that we have, there could be somebody on the inside that's supplying them with keys, so we didn't want to leave any rock unturned," he said.
Yeoman hired an internal investigator and polygraphed 70 percent of the 500 employees. They also did criminal background checks and constantly check inventory just to make sure it wasn't an inside job.
"It's become such a distraction for business that the employees don't know who to trust and who not to," said Yeomans.
Six cars are still missing, so Yeomans created a reward poster. He is offering to pay $1,000 for each car that they recover, hoping to get back at least some of the money they've lost.
"It's a violation for everybody. So anything that anybody can do to help us, we certainly appreciate the help," he said.
As for the car thieves, Yeoman said they now know who they are, have them on video and are working with police to try and get them arrested.
Mazda, Ford and Nissan are the top three dealerships that have been hit the hardest.
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