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Dealership break-ins might be related, police say

November 30, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Greencastle Police said Tuesday a break-in Sunday night at Hicks Chevrolet-Buick-Volvo in which a large safe and a new Chevrolet pickup truck were stolen might have been committed by a ring of thieves who have been hitting area auto dealerships recently.

The truck, which was damaged, was recovered in Washington County by the sheriff's department there, Greencastle Patrolman C. Wagner said.

The safe, which Wagner said contained a small amount of cash along with vehicle titles and paperwork, was not in the truck and still was missing Tuesday.

Wagner said he had "a hunch" that the theft was the work of a ring that has been breaking into dealerships in Franklin, Fulton, Adams and Cumberland counties.

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He said dealerships without security systems have been targeted.

Wagner said police believe the theft at Hicks occurred sometime between 1:30 a.m., when a patrolman did a routine check on the building, and 7 a.m., when an employee discovered the break-in.

Wagner said the thieves were able to find keys to the vehicles, along with corresponding information to each vehicle. They didn't have to run around trying keys to find the right truck, he said.

The safe is very heavy, Wagner said. It took a crew of men to bring it into the dealership when it was new.

The thieves found a lift in building and used it to pick up the safe and haul it to the truck. They dropped it about three feet into the bed of the truck, damaging the rear window and putting a hole in the bed, he said.

Police put the title numbers on a national registry in case they show up on other vehicles.

Wagner said thieves have broken into two auto dealerships in Gettysburg, Pa., a new car dealership in Shippensburg, Pa., one in McConnellsburg, Pa., and twice last summer at another dealership in Greencastle.

In one of the earlier Greencastle incidents, Wagner said, the thieves were interrupted trying to burn through a safe with a torch by a janitor who came to work around 4 a.m.

"We recovered everything there," Wagner said.

The dealership since has installed a security system, he said.

A Pennsylvania State Police task force is investigating the thefts, Wagner said.

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