By Jessica Farrish
Two Robert C. Byrd Drive car dealerships have been targeted multiple times by thieves in the last three months, personnel of both dealerships said Tuesday.
Shawn Ball, owner and general manager of L & S Toyota in Beckley, said the thieves targeted his business the past two Fridays.
On Sept. 6, the thieves removed a set of tires from a Toyota Tacoma around 4 a.m., estimated at around $4,000, said Ball. The tires were by Goodyear Eagle, size 2055516, he added.
On Friday, the thieves returned and removed a set of tires from a Toyota Corolla, Ball reported.
“The Tacoma wheels they stole were steel wheels,” he remarked. “When it first happened, I thought they were getting it for the steel, to steal as scrap.”
When they returned the following Friday, however, they took alloy tires from the Corolla, he reported.
“You just don’t take those kind of wheels they’re stealing and put them in your bedroom,” he said. “You have to have a big space...or there’s a local garage and somebody would have to be buying these things from them when they’re stealing them.
“Somebody’s storing them.”
Ball said State Treasurer John Perdue told him that similar tire thefts have been happening in the Huntington and Charleston areas lately.
“I personally believe it’s a lot bigger than some kids doing this for drug money,” he added.
According to Ball, the thieves were captured on surveillance camera being on the lot, then disappearing for awhile to avoid nearby bystanders, then returning when other people had cleared from the lot.
He said surveillance tapes even showed that the thieves were on the lot at the same time Ball was present around 9:30 p.m.
Because they were wearing hoodies, their identities are difficult to determine, he added.
“I went to pick up my truck after the Woodrow Wilson game Friday night, and I had all my family with me,” he said. “They were there stealing my tires while I picked up my truck.
“They were scoping people out, then having to hide,” Ball reported. “They’re not in fear of getting caught, at this point, obviously.”
Across the street from L & S, Beckley Auto Mall has been targeted by what the car dealers believe is the same operation.
Beckley Auto Mall sales manager Eddie Williams said 15 to 20 wheels and tires have been stolen from vehicles at his lot over the past 120 days.
“I think it’s two or three people,” said Williams. “Two people are getting wheels and tires, and somebody’s sitting in a car somewhere, rolling them off or taking them.
“They have to be selling them,” he added. “If anybody gets offered these wheels and tires at way-below-market value, they need to contact us or Shawn Ball over at L&S, or local authorities.
“If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Williams said additional security cameras have been installed, and the owner has filed reports with local law enforcement.
“It’s coming,” he said. “When they least expect it ... they will get caught.”