FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - The owner of a South Florida car dealership is breathing a sigh of relief after a Jeep valued at $200,000 that, he said, was stolen near the business has been safely recovered.
Joseph Ghattas, the owner of SoFlo Jeeps in Fort Lauderdale, said the luxury vehicle was found late Friday night in perfect shape.
“It’s in pristine condition. They didn’t even put a mile or two on the car,” he said.
This is not your average truck. The Jeep, an Apocalypse Hellfire, is massive and one of a kind.
“It’s a high horse power, diesel, six-wheel drive, luxury monster,” he said.
Ghattas described the heist that, he said, went down at around 3 a.m. on Thursday.
“A couple of guys got in the car with a laptop, programmed it, started it up and left with the vehicle,” he said.
Ghattas said the theft took place after he spent three months building the high-end Jeep for a customer. He said the truck was featured in the trailer for the upcoming movie “The Lost City,” starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum.
Ghattas said he drove the Jeep to his house, located behind the dealership, off Broward Boulevard, and left it there overnight.
When he woke up, he said, the distinctive six-wheel beast was gone.
The surveillance video captured the subjects at work.
“The Mustang pulls up, passes the house. A guy gets out of the car, jogs back to the vehicle, gets in the car,” said Ghattas. “It starts right up, all the lights come on, they back up and zoom away, and them and the Mustang go down 14th [Avenue] to Broward [Boulevard]. We don’t know where they went from there.”
But after the story aired on 7News Friday evening, Ghattas said, a viewer called him and said he spotted the Jeep less than two miles away.
”He says, ‘I see the truck that you’re talking about on the news right here.’ We’re like, ‘Where are you?’ He says, ‘Right by the Stranahan High School, parked in an alley behind their field,'” he said. “We drive out there, and there it was.”
Ghattas said they then called police.
“They came and they fingerprinted the car. They said, ‘We got some good fingerprints off of it,'” he said. “They marked it as recovered, and they said, ‘You’re good to go. You get to take your vehicle home.'”
The car dealership owner said he’s thankful the truck was so easy to spot, especially since it’s so unique, and now the customer will finally be able to get his hands on the high-end vehicle that he waited so long to drive.
“A three-month-long build, and we’ve got a customer on the other line who’s dying to get his vehicle. He got a call at the last minute that said, ‘Hey, your car’s stolen,'” he said, “and now we get to call him shortly after this and say, ‘Good news: we got the car back.'”
Ghattas had offered a $5,000 reward for information about the Jeep’s whereabouts. The 7News viewer who called and helped find the vehicle received the money.
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