FORT MYERS, Fla. — Auto shop burglaries are popping up in one Fort Myers corridor.
It’s a business owner’s worst nightmare. Dealing with theft. For auto shop owners, it can happen in a matter of one, two, three steps. Thieves have hit a total of eight businesses, stealing auto parts and a vehicle or two.
“This guy just walked in, grabbed the keys, started hitting remotes and activated one of the remotes and walked out and you know... This was in minutes! The camera shows the time frame when he walked by and it was just so quick!”
Lou Moralez is the owner of Lou’s Total Car Care & Fleet Service. They’ve been in business for 18 years. Within the past week, burglars have hit the shop twice. On one occasion, they took a vehicle and auto parts during another.
“I’m actually standing outside with a customer and a couple of people got out of a pick-up truck and, literally, started crawling and looking under the cars," says Moralez. "Obviously, I was there so I quickly stopped them and I also informed them that they’re being recorded.”
The auto shop is just one of eight in the Fort Myers area to be victimized of burglary since May 5. Authorities are still working to find many of the suspects, but have noticed a trend in the shops thieves are targeting- a corridor in the west district of Fort Myers.
“With the economy, Covid, a lot of problems; sometimes it’s an act of opportunity or a crime of opportunity," said Moralez. "Sometimes it’s just a deliberate act, like the dollies. It just seems to be an ongoing developing problem all the way around.”
While there has been a rise in auto shop thefts, there is some good news for Moralez and his customers. Fort Myers Police recently found one stolen vehicle, a white Jeep Grand Cherokee. While the vehicle has been returned, the possibility of future crimes remains.
But there is a way to reduce that risk.
“Good lighting, good cameras," Moralez says. "These things, like locks, it would automatically become not a crime of opportunity any more."
Fort Myers Police are still searching for those subjects involved. If you have any information, you are asked to contact them at (239) 321-7700.