Thief wanted for stealing same car twice

By Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - Houston police are on the hunt for a car thief suspected of stealing the same luxury car twice in less than a year.

The latest theft happened Friday at the Auto Plaza dealership on Richmond near Fondren.

"We were at a loss for words for a second, like, 'Oh, what just happened?'" said Auto Plaza inventory manager David Cohen.

Cohen said he was sitting in his office when he saw a man walk onto the lot, hop inside a Mercedes CLS 550 and drive away. The entire incident was captured on video by surveillance cameras.

"I see someone walk around the gate and within 15 seconds. I see the car drive out," said Cohen. "You don't come in to work and 30 minutes later expect to see someone jump in one of your vehicles and drive off."

Cohen also said the car is not your average Mercedes. Cohen said it's a black-on-black Mercedes CLS 550 with a special body type and wheels. Cohen said even used, the car is worth nearly $40,000.

"Around Houston I don't believe there to be more than maybe five or 10 of those vehicles," said Cohen.

Police and Cohen believes the thief had keys to the vehicle, which is why it was so easy to steal.

"He had a key," said Cohen. "It's a Mercedes-Benz, it's not something you just put a couple of wires together and just drive off."

Police said the exact same car was stolen last May from a different dealership off the Southwest Freeway. Police said in that case a man walked into NXCESS Motorcars posing as a customer.

Police said the man did not ask to test drive the vehicle but was given a key so he could start the ignition to take a look at car's different features. Police said the man drove off before the salesman had to a chance to climb into the passenger seat.

Houston police officer Jim Woods said the car was found abandoned several months later, but the keys were missing. Woods said the car was then sold at auction to the Auto Plaza dealership.

Woods said he is not certain exactly how the man tracked the car to the second dealership. Woods said he does suspect this man is connected to other crimes.

"If you've got a vehicle that doesn't come back to you then you can do all sorts of criminal activity with it and not worry about the fact that you're not going to get stopped because it's not going to trace back to you," said Woods.

Police ask that if you know anything about this crime to please call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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