(WSVN) - From parking garages to driveways, crooks are targeting cars with powerful engines, and victims of these high-priced thefts are sounding the alarm. The Nightteam’s Karen Hensel has tonight’s 7 Investigates.

BSO video: “Making a little U-turn circle at the end here.”

Aerial night vision video from the Broward Sheriff’s Office shows a group looking to take advantage of car owners who forget to lock their doors.

BSO video: “That’s one, two, three, four, all trying car doors.”

It’s part of an effort the agency calls “HEAT” or High-End Auto Theft. From Mercedes-Benzs to Range Rovers, BSO recovered 69 stolen cars worth more than $4.3 million in 2020.

This year, BSO tells 7News they have seen a rise in theft cases involving cars with powerful hellcat engines.

Fahim Siddiqui, car theft victim: “I’ve been in love with American muscle since I was little. I mean, my father had a Mustang growing up, so I’ve always liked very powerful cars.”

In 2018, Fahim Siddiqui bought this new Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

He even used it for quite the gender reveal announcement that was anything but quiet.

Fahim Siddiqui: “I was able to get a good deal on this car, and I purchased what would have been a dream car.”

But it was not just his dream car.

It was targeted by thieves — not once but twice — in less than four months.

Fahim Siddiqui: “You never thought it would be yours until they come to your front door, and they’re trying to take your car.”

Surveillance video from Fahim’s Southwest Miami-Dade home captured the first attempt in December.

A quick-thinking neighbor stopped the theft.

Fahim Siddiqui: “His daughter heard the back window, and then, he shined a light on them, and they ran away.”

Left behind: broken glass, scratched seats and a sneaking suspicion.

Fahim Siddiqui: “I figured they were going to finish the business.”

On March 31, it happened.

Fahim Siddiqui: “One individual picks the other guy up into the back of the car. He crawls himself into the front of the car. The laptop is then plugged in using a harness that’s under the passenger side kick panel, and within three minutes, he’s able to use his computer to bypass the security system. You see the car lights flash as if it was deactivated. The car started up, and they back out, and they drive off. I know a lot about cars, and they know a lot more.”

The owner of this Charger Hellcat did not want to appear on camera but agreed to speak with us by phone.

Thieves managed to steal the car last month from his gated community.

Car theft victim: “They do not even need your key. You have all your keys. They’ll have a fake key, and they’ll program their key via laptop to start your car.”

His Hellcat was recovered, but not before being taken on a three-county ride.

It was stolen in Pembroke Pines, driven south to Miami Gardens, then Opa-Locka, where the owner says the car’s LoJack tracking system was disabled.

Records show, a few days later, police attempted to stop the car, but it took off and ended up in Delray Beach.

Car theft victim: “They were able to outrun the police, and they dumped my car in the process. When I saw the report, I was shocked that this thing was in that chase and SWAT was involved.”

It’s easy to understand why these cars are targeted.

Matt Moore, Senior VP, Highway Loss Data Institute: “Expensive cars are popular for theft. Powerful cars are popular for theft, and these are expensive, powerful cars.”

Fahim knows crooks look for these cars to steal.

He hears it from other Hellcat owners online.

Fahim Siddiqui: “This is not just a Miami or South Florida thing. Everyday you log into the forums, you’re hearing this car is stolen. ‘Oh, they got mine.’ It’s not even like ‘Oh, my God, they stole my car.’ It’s ‘They got mine today. They got mine today.’ It’s like people are already expecting it’s going to be gone.”

Even if you don’t own a Hellcat, you have an increased risk of having your car stolen just by living here in South Florida. Miami-Dade and Broward both rank in the top 10 counties in the country for car theft, and that means higher insurance rates for everyone.

Dodge’s parent company is finalizing a security upgrade for Hellcat-equipped cars to help fight theft.

It will be ready in the next few months and will be installed for free at dealerships.

Dodge customers with questions and concerns can call 1-800-423-6343 for more information.

CONTACT 7INVESTIGATES:
305-627-CLUE
954-921-CLUE
clue@wsvn.com

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