Deputies: 'Customers' switched keys, drove Mercedes off lot
WESLEY CHAPEL (FOX 13) - They came in to check out a $117K Mercedes. Soon after, they drove it off the lot -- but deputies said they never paid for it.
Now, the search is on for the two suspected car thieves.
According to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, it happened Wednesday morning. The two men walked into the Mercedes- Benz dealership in Wesley Chapel.
"These subjects came in and they were very specific about the makes, models, types of Mercedes that they wanted," explained Det. Brock Henderson with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
The 2016 Mercedes S-550, to be exact, valued at nearly $120,000. They told a salesman one of the men was shopping for his wife and the other's Mercedes was getting worked on in the service center.
The suspect asked to sit in the driver's seat, to get a closer look inside. Since he wasn't taking it for a test drive, he was simply handed the key, without having to show a license.
But when they gave the keys back, sales employees didn't notice the real ones had been switched with fakes.
"The sales clerk totally did not even know. That's how similar it was. it had the Mercedes logo on it," Det. Henderson said.
They left the lot without purchasing a car, and a few hours later, the staff realized one of the cars the duo had been looking at was gone.
Surveillance video showed the suspects had indeed walked off the lot, but one of them circled back and walked towards the car. A short time later, the black 2016 Mercedes Benz S-550 could be seen in footage leaving the lot.
It has not been seen since.
Pasco County detectives said the well-though-out heist is not a new one.
"Usually what happens with these types of cars, they'll steal a large amount of Mercedes, Land Rovers, Range Rovers, those high-dollar amount cars, and they typically ship those off to other countries on a black market somewhere," Det. Henderson explained.
He added, it's possible the car could be in China by now, but are hopeful the GPS tracking system inside it will lead them back to these culprits.
Deputies say anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-706-2488 or leave a tip: https://www.tipsubmit.com/WebTips.aspx?AgencyID=615