Police Search for Indiana Car Thief Who Uses a Crane

PHOTO: Someone used a crane to steal a car out of a car dealership in LaPorte, Ind., Oct 19, 2011.

A truck decorated with a diamond pattern is being sought in an unusual theft of a car from an Indiana dealership.

The truck, equipped with a crane, simply picked up a car, loaded it onto the truck's bed, and drove away.

The car that was stolen was a used 2008 Jeep Wrangler with a plow attached to it, a rare vehicle, according to Matt Magnuson, general manager of LaPorte Chrysler, in LaPorte, Ind. Magnuson said he had searched for a vehicle of that make for two years at the request of a buyer. The car was sold on Saturday for $25,000 and stolen on Sunday at 6:40 a.m.

"It's the weirdest thing I've ever seen," said Bob Wiles, a salesman at the dealership. "[Another salesman] sold it Saturday, and this guy came and got it Sunday. I shouldn't laugh, but I've never seen anything like this before."

The dealership's surveillance cameras captured photos of a man in a hooded sweatshirt. He exited a flatbed truck and jump into a black crane, which he used to lift the Jeep out of the lot and onto a trailer. He then drove off. The heist lasted about six minutes, Magnuson said.

Indiana Car Thief Uses Crane

The dealership manager said the truck is distinctive, with a white cab, a red bed, and diamond placards both on the tool box and the bulk head. The thief used a black Prentice brand crane.

Wiles, who has worked at LaPorte Chrysler for 24 years, was the first to notice something wrong on Sunday. He drove by the lot and saw broken glass on the ground. Then he found the keys to a Jeep Wrangler that wasn't in its spot, and he realized the vehicle had been stolen.

Magnuson said he has coped with the theft of parts and cars at the dealership, but he's never seen anyone use a crane before.

"Normally if they're going to steal a car they hotwire it and take it away. This is nuts," he said.

None of the other vehicles stolen from the dealership were ever recovered, but Magnuson said he hopes to hear from police on the investigation. In the meantime, the lot will be equipped with new surveillance cameras, Wiles said.

"We thought about getting a security guard, but we're such a small dealership in a small town, so it didn't seem worth it," he said.

Magnuson said the media attention may aid in the investigation.

"I appreciate it, because the more exposure we can get maybe we can recognize the truck," he said.

LaPorte police declined to comment for this story.

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