'Customers' dupe Fort Pierce car dealer and drive off with $50,000 Jeep, detectives say

Keys were switched on salesman

FORT PIERCE, Fla. - It sounds like a Hollywood heist. Thieves stole a $50,000 vehicle from the Arrigo  Dodge Dealership without breaking a sweat or a window.

Investigators said it happened while an employee was showing a car. The driver took a look inside and  started it. Deputies say as he was getting out he swapped the keys for an identical pair. The next few moments were all captured on camera.

The suspects get into the Jeep and drive right off the lot --   undetected -- minutes after the salesman had just showed it.

"I mean obviously, the way it was done, I think that they were professionals and they knew what they were doing.," said Joe Tufo, Arrigo Dodge General Manager.

Tufo says while the salesman showed the vehicle, in just seconds the keys were switched for an identical pair.

Moments later the once potential buyers unlocked the jeep, hopped in and took off without spending a dime.

"The fact that they did it in broad daylight and switched the key fob and it was like it was nothing. That's what makes it unique," said Tufo.

"It's always something new. I've been doing this for 12 years and it's always something new," detective Deron Brown, with the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office said.

Auto theft detective Brown said "key swap" thefts are the future. But what is rare is  having surveillance footage of the crime.

"That's one of the least things they have at car dealerships are security cameras. To have this footage is great -- it really helps us out."

Tufo says he realizes the stolen jeep might be long gone, but he hopes getting the story out could help.

"I think it's a lesson for all dealers out there that hey, this could happen. You might think that it's a potential customer, but it also could be someone trying take or steal your vehicle," said Tufo.

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