Police in Atlanta say that 32-year-old Ronald Thomas stole as many as 150 vehicles over the past few years to sell their parts. The way he did it — and got away with it so long — is kind of brilliant.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that police think Thomas used "new technology" in the form of a device that plugs into a car's OBD port and allowed him to start the engines without a key.
Police won't say whether Thomas made the device or bought it, probably because they don't want you getting your hands on one. It was the first time police in Atlanta had seen cars stolen with such a device.
That wasn't the only smart thing he did. In his years-long career of stealing Escalades, Tahoes and Yukons to sell their engines and wheels, he had a clever way of clearing out his lot to make room for more cars: he, or someone else, got the cops to do it.
Sgt. Jack Bentley said police suspect that it was Thomas who made periodic anonymous calls to report stripped down SUV's crowded into the parking lots at abandoned warehouses. The calls would prompt police to have the nuisance vehicles removed.
But they aren't certain it was him yet. "Somebody calls. That's how he clears his lots," Bentley said.
Why dump the car somewhere when you can just get the police to do it for you, right?
Police also say Thomas was very "paranoid" and cautious, moving around frequently any time he got the sense that authorities were on to him.
In the end, this would-be mastermind was taken down by an informant's tip, which led police to surveil him for two weeks. He faces 16 counts of theft and other charges.
I'm no fan of anyone who steals someone else's car, but his cleverness is kind of impressive.