Thieves Are Using Test Drives To Steal Cars.


There have been a number of incidents that have been reported that remind dealers to use caution when handing over the keys to someone to test drive their vehicles.

The latest incident was in Colorado when two women, Othello Kenta and Chelsea Marie Getchell were accused of selling cars that they had stolen on test drives from private sellers.

A dealer in Michigan recently was a victim to a key switch scam. That’s when thieves keep the real key after a test drive and gives the dealer a similar looking key and then comes back later at night to steal the car.

All this is just another reason for dealership staff to accompany customers on a test drive, said Jim Edwards, president of Professional Dealers Institute.

This should be mandatory practice for all dealers anyway. Most garage liability agreements require staff to go on test drives. To prevent any misuse of the vehicles, for example with stop light cameras in many areas and dealerships can now be liable for speeding tickets.

Another Michigan dealer reported one of his customers took a vehicle on a six hour test drive. It’s unknown what the vehicle was used for on this six hour test drive.

Edwards says some people test drive pickup trucks in order to pick up wood chips and even manure. There are some problems that happen when a staff member rides along on a test drive and it turns into a carjacking.

There have been a number of cases were salesmen have been held at gunpoint for hours while the driver steals their car.

“I know some folks who carry a gun on test drives” said Kat Messenger, vice president of Professional Dealers Institute.

An alternative to this problem is technology. The starter interrupt and GPS devices used for payment assurance can always be used for theft detection. The argument for this, from dealers, is that they don’t install units in cars until after the customer has negotiated and been accepted by Bank.

Ms. Messenger said inexpensive GPS units can be created using disposable cell phones as well.

Attorney Tom Hudson said that approach is legal, but he recommends disclosing their usage in a test drive agreement. These are good ideas for any store and are mandatory in some states, Hudson said.

Dealers beware of car thefts on test drives always stay on top of your game. Make sure you either accompany the customer on a test drive or have some kind of theft protection on all vehicles.

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