MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new trend in vehicle break-ins has the victim going nowhere fast. Thieves are taking car batteries and selling them for cash.
At the KIA dealership in Waite Park, sales manager Joshua Medisch always sees the latest craze in vehicles. What he did not expect to see was the latest must-have in vehicle break-ins.
When business opened Thursday morning, Medisch realized 15 cars and trucks could not be put up for sale. Thieves busted in and stole the batteries.
“I was pretty shocked. We’ve had rims and tires stolen, but batteries are unusual,” Medisch said.
KIA wasn’t the only victim. Since Wednesday, Waite Park police have received reports on more than a dozen vehicle battery thefts throughout the city. The batteries can be traded in for cash or store credit at businesses that have a buy-back program. Usually, the value is only a couple of dollars for the battery, but police said what is inside can bring in a good profit.
“It’s our belief they’re doing this similar to copper. Lead prices, in the core of the batteries, have increased in last year or so,” said Sgt. Tom Jensen, of the Waite Park Police Department.
The thefts are a trend that police used to consider seasonal, break-ins typically spiked around start of the fall semester. The economy has changed their outlook.
I think we’re going to see more and more of these activities,” Jensen said.
It’s also changed the outlook for the folks at KIA who now see the value where they’ve never seen it before.
“We’ve lost more money this time than any one robbery we’ve had, as far as rims, tires, stereos or TVs taken out of cars,” Medisch said.
Police said many of the vehicles were unlocked. So far, they have not made any arrests.