Luxury Cars Stolen From Bay Area Dealerships

San Mateo police investigating whether 2 men arrested for August burglaries are connected to more recent cases

After two high-end car dealerships were hit within two days in two different cities, Bay Area police are trying to figure out if there is a link between the luxury dealership heists.

At least 20 cars have been stolen from dealerships in Belmont and San Jose since Friday.

"These people definitely knew what they were doing," said Michael Zahari, who owns Formula 1 Motors in San Jose.

Zahari said surveillance video from the dealership on Stevens Creek Boulevard shows seven men breaking into Formula 1 Motors early Friday morning and taking off with five vehicles.

"As soon as they grabbed the keys there was about seven guys running in the lot, picking the cars they want -- the more expensive ones -- and driving off with the cars one by one," Zahari said.

At least one suspect was seen bringing out a board with more than 40 keys to the dealers' cars and other suspects joined in as the keys were strewn on the ground, picked up and specific cars targeted. Taken were: Two supercharged Range Rover SUVs, a BMW, Mercedes-Benz and a Porsche.

The group of suspects used the keys to drive away in the new, high-end vehicles, each the highest priced models worth more than $200,000 each with the fewest miles on the odometer, officials said.

"They did it very fast," Zahari said. "If I were to guess -- five seconds?"

And the thieves did not stop there. Authorities said several cars were also taken off the Mercedes Benz lot just down the street in Santa Clara.

In the most recent case, nine cars from the Mercedes Benz Autobhan Motors dealership in Belmont were stolen, sometime between 1 and 3 a.m. on Sunday. That's when an unknown number of suspects scaled a fence of the dealership in the 700 block of Island Parkway and stole car keys from cars that had been left at the dealership for repairs, according to Belmont Police Captain Patrick Halleran.

"We don't know what their motive was for taking the cars," Halleran said. "All we know is there has got to be a certain amount of organization to take the vehicles. It's doubtful this was a spur of the moment decision on their part."

Halleran said there are at least nine suspects in the Belmont case because of the amount of vehicles.

Authorities said most of the cars have already been recovered, most of those in Oakland.

Police in San Mateo on Tuesday announced the arrests of two men they said are connected to burglaries at a pair of dealerships back in August. A department spokesperson said investigators are “working collaboratively” with Belmont police and the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office to figure out if the same men were involved in the more recent cases.

There are many similarities between the burglaries and police said they are comparing notes with other Bay Area agencies to see if they can make connections and catch the burglars.

Meanwhile, auto dealerships are doing what they can to better protect themselves.

"We're gonna be a little more careful," Zahari said. "We thought we're in San Jose on Stevens Creek and this place is a pretty safe place, but I guess there's no place safe anymore."

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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