RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Thieves are stealing car batteries from auto repair shops and it's been caught on camera! They've hit shops up and down Jeff Davis Highway in Chesterfield and Midlothian Turnpike in Richmond.
We've learned the two police departments are working together to see if the more than fifty incidents we found are connected. Crooks will only get about ten dollars for each battery. It will cost shops, on the other hand, upwards of $100 to replace every one.
Friday the 13th was not a good morning at All U Need Automotive in South Richmond. Surveillance footage shows the brazen battery bandits taking their time breaking into ten cars. From the time code on the tapes, they were on the lot for almost an hour.
Owner Lee Runyon discovered the burglary when he opened for business.
"I went to get in one of the cars to move it and it acted like the battery was dead," he explained. "I opened the hood and of course there's nothing there and we started checking the other cars."
He wasn't alone in the unwanted surprise. On that same night, a dozen batteries were stolen from neighboring repairs shops.
"They took the ones out that was easiest to get out without having to unbolt anything," Runyon said. "Anything they could get to and cut is what they took."
Then this weekend, there was another rash. Burglars hit several Chesterfield shops, including one where they took at least twenty batteries.
Police told NBC12 this is definitely an increase in activity and similar to the thefts of catalytic converters. Crooks take the parts to salvage yards, which want them to recycle the metals inside.
"It's really frustrating because all it does is cost us money and they get very little out of it," Runyon said. "It costs us three times as much to put it back together."
This time around that adds up to $1,300 for All U Need Automotive and Runyon wants the suspects to know he's not happy about it.
"Don't let me catch you," he warned.
One police source told us they are working on a suspect and could have an arrest soon. In the meantime, some of the shops owners maintain they're working to increase their security and hoping for more officer patrols.