It’s been a problem in recent weeks at local auto dealerships in the Sherwood area – thieves trespassing onto their property and taking expensive merchandise.
Not so any more. With the help of some of the car dealerships themselves, in addition to the North Little Rock and Jacksonville police departments, the Sherwood Police Department has made arrests in thefts that had resulted in $30,000 worth of merchandise being stolen from area dealerships.
"We got a tip from dealerships on who might be in possession from stolen wheels off a 2013 Camero," said Sherwood Police Capt. Kel Nicholson.
Nicholson said officers last week were tracking down leads in the case and recovered the Camero wheels in addition to other wheels taken from a Tahoe.
Nicholson said these theft cases have been going on for some time.
"They are going after a particular item they are looking for," Nicholson said. "So far this investigation has not led to any type of organized crime unit."
Nicholson said two or three local car dealerships had been hit.
"It has not been a statewide problem," Nicholson said.
Nicolson said taking wheels off of Camero models can be very expensive losses.
"Some Camero wheels and tires cost $4,000-$5,000," Nicholson said.
Bob Morris, sales manager at Russell Chevrolet in Sherwood, the thefts have cost the dealership dearly.
"We have had a rash of wheels and tires stolen late at night on vehicles parked for sale," Morris said.
Morris said his dealership had been watching Craig’s List recently and noticed that there were two sets of wheels and tires for sale on the internet site that matched the description of Russell’s missing property.
"We informed the police department and they factory traced the phone number and arrested the guy and we recovered all our wheels," Morris said.
Morris said the dealership turns in the loss to its insurance company but it has such high deductibles that Russell is bearing most of the loss on its own.
"Quite a few police agencies worked together," Morris said. Morris said police found one culprit’s site where he was hiding the merchandise in a storage unit off of Warden Road.
In recent weeks, the department had gotten various reports of stolen property in the Sherwood area along the highway.
On Nov. 21, police responded to a report of a stolen $600 music speaker taken from the vehicle of Marian Robinson of North Little Rock. Robinson said she left the speaker in the truck and it was there before it had been towed to JD Byrider, 6600 Landers Road.
On Nov. 25, North Point Mazda on Landers Road reported that when employees arrived at work they found two places in the chain link fence around the back of the property that had been cut. Employees told police they found nothing missing.
On Nov. 23, Manager Doug Tanner of Gwatney Buick GMC on Landers Road said unknown persons cut a hole in the fence to the car lot of Newman Drive.
"Tanner advised that property was taken off two different vehicles on the lot," according to the police report.
Merchandise was stolen off a 2013 GMC Denali, including four wheels and tires worth $3,425, $2,700 radio receiver and navigation system, two rear tail light lamps worth $340, and another set of four wheels and tires taken off of another 2013 GMC Denali. The 20-inch chrome wheels were listed in value at $4,800.
"Tanner stated that he also discovered that the fence was cut between his lot and the North Point Mazda Volkswagon dealership," according to the report. "A third hole was found in the eastside of the fence from the North Point Mazda Volkswagon dealership onto Kamis Alley."
On Nov. 24, the North Point Collision Center on Starita Drive reported that $500 of damage was done when someone cut a hole in its chain link fence.