WEST PARK, FLA. (WSVN) - A customized Ford truck was found a day after thieves drove it away from a West Park body shop.
Jorge Martinez, the owner of repair shop 8 Lug Customs, confirmed that the truck was found and recovered, Tuesday morning, after being stolen a day earlier.
The damage on the truck could be seen on the bumper after the thieves smashed it through the gate to get it out from the West Park repair shop. The owner offered a $5,000 reward to anyone who could help crack the case, and a 7News viewer was able to collect that cash for her tip.
Martinez said a woman called Broward County Crime Stoppers after hearing the story on 7News. She told officials that the truck was located in North Miami Beach, at 17001 N.E. 9 Ave.
“I got a phone call from someone who called Crime Stoppers and gave the information of the truck,” said Martinez. “She said it looked exactly like the one in the picture and the video, and for us to go take a look at it.”
Police headed to the scene and identified the vehicle. It was then towed back to the shop.
Hours after the tipster alerted officials of the truck’s location, she was given the $5,000 reward at the shop.
“We appreciate it from the bottom of our heart,” Martinez said as he handed her the reward. “We are true to our word. We are going to give you the reward, which is $5,000.”
A neighbor of 8 Lug Customs provided surveillance video showing the Ford F-250 backing over two chain-link fences at the business, located on Southwest 59th Avenue and 24th Street, Sunday night.
“The only thing I can say is, whoever took it knew what they were doing. They knew,” Martinez said.
Martinez said he called his client on Monday to deliver the bad news. “Rude awakening, when you’re out of the country, and somebody tells you they stole your $100,000 truck,” he said.
Martinez said this was no run-of-the-mill custom job. “This truck in particular was torn down to the bare chassis, had the chassis pressure-cleaned, powder-coated. Every wire, every bolt was gold,” he said. “It’s a very, very custom truck, which took us a little over two years to complete.”
The video shows two people showing up at the business at around 10:30 p.m. They are first seen swiping the truck’s tailgate, while a third person waited in a car.
Shortly after, the thieves are seen making their getaway with the entire truck. Rather than crash into the fences head on, they are seen switching into reverse and backing over them in order to preserve the charcoal gray vehicle’s refurbished front.
“When they hit the trash can and fence, there’s several scratches and scrapes a little bit to the bed but mostly to the bumper of the truck,” said Martinez. “A small price to pay for the truck itself, but if we had to put a price on the stuff to replace it, it would be between $4,000 and $5,000.”
After crashing through the fences, the truck headed northbound on Southwest 59th Terrace.
For Martinez and the owner of 8 Lug, this was a personal loss. “Literally blood, sweat and tears went into this truck,” said Martinez, “and to have something like this happen, it’s devastating.”
Once the truck was recovered, Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies dusted it and took pictures to try to find out who was behind the robbery.
“The lady that saw it, she was just on her way home at 4 in the morning,” Martinez said, “so seeing something like this at the end of an apartment complex sticks out like a sore thumb.”
Meanwhile, the folks at 8 Lug will be doing some serious customizing on a new security system. “We’re gonna be fed up a little more, get some more cameras and stuff,” said Martinez. “A lot of people in the area have the same situation, for four, five, six years. Old security systems aren’t the same they are now. Now, there’s a whole lot of high def, a lot of stuff like that, so we want to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
The truck was scheduled to be delivered to the client in the next couple of weeks.
Police are still looking for the those involved in stealing the truck. The shop owner now has another $5,000 for anyone who can help catch the crooks who took the truck.
A manager at the shop explained why the second reward is being offered. “The way we do things here, whenever something comes in, it’s like it’s ours,” he said. “That’s the way he does things, that’s the way he trains to do things whenever we work here. It’s like somebody stole his personal thing, and like we said before, it’s personal because they know what they were doing.”
If you have any information on these thieves, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $5,000 reward.
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