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April 24, 2014

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Demonstration leaves car stripped to frame in minutes

Insurance company, Metro Police put on demonstration to encourage drivers to secure their vehicles

Image

Steve Marcus

Scott Orkfritz, left, and Brenton Meservey remove seats from a 2007 Toyota Camry during a “chop shop” demonstration in a Town Square mall parking lot Tuesday. The demonstration was conducted to elevate awareness of auto theft. A three-man team using common hand tools stripped the car in six minutes and 8 seconds. The demonstration was sponsored by Allstate Insurance and is part of a 14-city tour.

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Chop Shop Demonstration

Boys look inside a stripped 2007 Toyota Camry during a Launch slideshow »

Shoppers at Town Square mall stopped and watched Tuesday as three men broke into a 2007 Toyota Camry and dismantled it within six minutes.

No one called the police.

They didn’t have to. The break-in was a demonstration by auto theft prevention experts from Allstate Insurance Co. and Metro Police to educate drivers about how quickly a car can be stolen and stripped.

“I’m amazed by how quickly it happened,” said Juanita Thomas, 44, of Las Vegas.

After seeing the Camry chopped to pieces, Thomas said, she is going to buy a car alarm for her Jeep Liberty.

David Tulo, 48, Scott Orkfritz, 39, and Brenton Meservey, 30, of Chicago have been performing the demonstration for six weeks as part of a 14-city tour.

They use simple hand tools like screwdrivers and can break into a vehicle in a matter of seconds without looking suspicious. It wasn’t until the entire front end of the car was exposed that people began to stop and notice what they were doing.

But they’re not car thieves. They love their work and promoting a simple message: Lock your doors and hide electronics.

While the trio tore the car apart, price tags were placed on the parts. Car doors cost about $800 each, and engine prices can range up to $3,000.

Officials said Toyota and Honda are the most commonly stolen cars. Pickup trucks are also more likely to be stolen in Las Vegas than other places, officials said.

Tony Edwards, 38, of Las Vegas said his Ford Ranger was broken into.

“They smashed the window and took my computer bag because they thought a computer was in there,” he said. “I got it back six months later after cops raided one of the chop shop locations.”

Metro spokesman Bill Cassell said the cars are worth more money if sold for parts.

In 2005, a total of 20,097 vehicles were stole in Las Vegas, he said. That number began to decrease significantly in 2006 because of Metro’s auto theft detail, and last year the number was 9,019.

Wendy Ford, market claim manager for Allstate, said Las Vegas was No. 1 in the nation for stolen vehicles in 2006. She said the valley has scaled back to No. 9, but she would like to move out of the top 10.

“People need to realize if someone wants to get in your car they can,” Cassell said. “(The demonstration) is a visual to increase awareness.”

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