(NEW YORK) — Thieves across the country are in many cases not targeting expensive SUVs parked in driveways and parking lots. Instead, they are stealing the third row of seats from the vehicles for up to a $1,000 profit.
Ivan Barahona, an SUV owner, parked his vehicle in his Dallas driveway, and made sure nothing valuable was inside and locked it up. But a trio still broke into the back, and within seconds, removed part of the seats. Within 40 seconds, the entire back row in the vehicle was gone.
“It feels really bad because people work really hard for what they have,” Barahona said.
Police say so-called “third seat theft” is on the rise, particularly in Texas and California.
Replacement seats are in demand by SUV owners whose row of seats has been damaged or worn out. Detectives say the crooks can get about $1,000 for the seats on sites like Craigslist or in a salvage yard — a sizable payoff for 40 seconds of work.
Police often recover the stolen seats but have no way of reuniting them with their rightful owner, which is why Los Angeles police are encouraging owners to engrave their SUV’s vehicle identification number onto the bottom of those seats.
“It’s something that’s very simple. With a little bit of time and effort people can protect themselves,” Det. Mike Ventura with the Los Angeles Police Department said.
Even something as inexpensive as a bike lock will slow crooks down. Locking up seats is a good investment, because replacing a stolen third seat at the dealership can cost up to $4,000.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jethro Mullen Ivana Kottasova and Patrick Gillespie, CNN
Selena Larson, CNN