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N4T Investigators: Car thieves targeting Fords, shopping malls - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Car thieves targeting Fords, shopping malls

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If you've ever had your vehicle stolen, you know the feelings it brings out. You feel angry, frustrated, and just want your car back. For one Tucson man, waking up with his car missing was a rude awakening. It’s also left him with an unsettling feeling.

Rick Kapple learned a tough lesson about how easy it is for car thieves to strike at any time, and in any place.  Even someplace he thought was secure.

“I opened the garage door, and saw that the car was missing, the first thing through my mind was holy cow, my car was just stolen. I mean, I knew instantly that's what happened,”

Kapple’s 2011 Ford Fusion was stolen in September of last year. Pima County Sheriff's Deputies were alerted about activity on Kapple's credit card.

Detectives sent out surveillance photos, and authorities in Las Vegas nabbed the suspects.

Kapple ultimately got his car back, but it was cold comfort.

“I had it back for about a couple days, and I realized I just didn't want it anymore. It had a funny smell to it. It had some damage to it, and I just didn't feel comfortable driving it anymore,” Kapple said.

Sergeant Kevin Kubitskey, with the Pima County Sheriff's Department tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, cars being stolen out of people's garages is not a common occurrence. Usually, thieves choose to strike in public places like shopping malls.

“Those are the areas you're going to see most of your activity, and most of the vehicles being stolen from,” Kubitskey said.

Shopping malls provide a target-rich environment, where criminals they can take their pick of vehicles to rip-off.  They then head south down Interstate 19.

“We do see a lot of vehicles, usually a particular type of vehicle, which is mostly trucks. We'll see them cross over the border into Mexico after they've been stolen, and before they've been reported,” Kubitskey said.

Kubitskey also tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, they're seeing as many as two to three trucks, usually Ford f-150's, stolen every day in Pima county. The vehicles that aren't taken south of the border are put to use by criminals here in southern Arizona.

“Most of the time, if it's used in some sort of criminal act, or it's been used to further their criminal activity, they'll generally take it to the desert and burn it,” Kubitskey said.

Kubitskey says there are simple things you can do to keep from becoming a victim. That Includes not keeping valuables in your vehicle overnight, and investing in a steering wheel lock.

“That's a huge deterrent. When they see that they have to mess with something like that in order to steal the vehicle, usually that deters them from even trying,” Kubitskey said.

For his part, Kapple tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, he bought a new car of the same make and model. He also tells us, the suspects stole more than his transportation - they also took his peace-of-mind.

“Now they knew who I was, and where I lived. Although they're both in jail, you know, who knows what crazy intentions people might have,” Kapple said.

The suspects were both convicted, and are doing time in an Arizona prison.

If you have something you'd like the News 4 Tucson Investigators to check out, email us at investigators@kvoa.com, or call the News 4 Tucson Investigators tip-line at (520) 955-4444.  

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