HPD: Thieves stealing rental cars to commit other crimes

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by Jeff McShan / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on November 15, 2012 at 12:57 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 15 at 1:03 AM

HOUSTON—A sea of rental cars can be found at both Houston airports and most of them will be returned by honest customers, but more and more, police are nabbing crooks who rent cars and never bring them back.

Houston Police Department officer Jim Woods said it’s just another identity theft crime that’s on the rise.

“If it’s not your credit card and you’ve got a doctored I.D. and you put enough information down, and it all passes the initial check, then you’ll walk away with a rental vehicle,” Officer Woods said.

And many of the rented and then stolen vehicles are sold to other crooks.

We rode along with HPD auto theft investigators who had just recovered a stolen 2012 Dodge Charger. It had been rented, but never returned. Two people were detained for questioning after they allegedly tried to sell the Charger to an undercover detective for just $700.

“That’s pretty much the going rate. Any stolen vehicle is going to be sold for less than $1,000,” said Officer Woods.

Crooks are in the market for stolen cars because they don’t use their own to commit other crimes.

A stolen Ford pickup was recovered just last week after crooks dumped it off behind a Northeast Houston convenience store. It had been used in an armed robbery at a T-Mobile store located off the Gulf Freeway.

“But ultimately we pay for it. You know the rental car companies, they are in the business to make a profit,” Officer Woods said.

While many stolen rental vehicles are sold to other crooks, some are not. One woman told KHOU 11 News that it took her more than a year to save $8,000 so she could buy a used car that she found on Craigslist. The car turned out to be owned by Enterprise. It was returned, and the woman lost her savings.

“We always encourage people to meet them in a public place first. Know who you are dealing with, and if it’s a vehicle always ask to see the title,” said Officer Woods.

A sea of rental cars can be found at both Houston airports and most of them will be returned by honest customers. But more and more, police are nabbing crooks who rent cars and never bring them back. HPD officer Jim Woods says it’s just another identity theft crime that’s on the rise.

“If it’s not your credit card and you’ve got a doctored I.D. and you put enough information down and it all passes the initial check then you’ll walk away with a rental vehicle,” Officer Woods said.

And many of these rented then stolen vehicles are sold to other crooks.

We rode along with HPD Auto theft investigators who had just recovered a stolen 2012 Dodge Charger. It had been rented, but never returned. Two people were detained for questioning after they allegedly tried to sell the Charger to an undercover detective for just 7-hundred dollars.

“That’s pretty much the going rate. Any stolen vehicle is going to be sold for less than 1-thousand dollars,” said Officer Woods.

Crooks are in the market for stolen cars because they don’t use their own to commit other crimes.

A stolen Ford pickup was recovered just last week after crooks dumped it off behind a Northeast Houston convenience store. It had been used in an armed robbery at a T-Mobile store off the Gulf Freeway.

“But ultimately we pay for it. You know the rental car companies, they are in the business to make a profit,” Officer Woods said.

While many stolen rental vehicles are sold to other crooks, some are not. One woman told KHOU 11 News that it took her more than a year to save 8-thousand dollars so she could buy a used car that she found on Craigslist. The car turned out to be owned by Enterprise. It was returned, and the woman lost her savings.

“We always encourage people to meet them in a public place first. Know who you are dealing with, and if it’s a vehicle always ask to see the title,” said Officer Woods.

Good advice.

 

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