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Thieves target BMWs for car parts

GLENDALE — Life as a BMW in this city has been a bit rough this month. A rash of thefts, in which varying amounts of exterior parts are completely removed, has focused mostly on their kind.

And their owners are not happy.

“It’s just ridiculous,” said Troy Mahrook, whose BMW 323 was completely stripped on Sunday. “I spent so much money on it. It was my baby.”

Mahrook’s car was one of at least 12 BMWs in the city that have been stripped of thousands of dollars worth of exterior parts, including grilles, side mirrors, badges and bumpers, according to police reports.

The third-row seat of a Cadillac Escalade, the front grill of a Mercedes sedan and side mirror of a Pontiac Grand Am also dot the list of stolen parts this month, but the most expensive and extensive stripping has focused on BMWs, according to police.

The BMW burglaries range from the removal of $150 fog lamps to, as in Mahrook’s case, the removal of almost everything.

He walked up to the intersection of South Chevy Chase Drive and East Windsor Road on Sunday to discover his BMW — outfitted with an expensive AC Schnitzer aftermarket kit — stripped of its front bumper, both side mirrors, side moldings, badges and spoilers.

The entire car was also keyed and the rear bumper had been crushed in half, he said.

“You know that movie ‘Transformers’?” Mahrook asked. “Well, it transformed into a different car.”

His insurance company on Wednesday declared the BMW a total loss, he said.

A BMW M5 sedan was also stripped on Sunday of is side mirrors, moldings, headlights, fog lamps, gearshift knob, interior light and all its headrests while it sat parked in the 1100 block of Howard Street, according to police reports.

Damage to that car was estimated to be at least $2,500.

The rash of BMW stripping represents the latest in a changing tide of what’s hot and what’s not on the black market of stolen goods, Glendale Police Sgt. Ernie Garcia said.

A BMW owner who needs to replace a lost side mirror might pay to have someone to swipe its mate. Auto body shops might place entire orders, he said.

And since the parts are almost always on the exterior, the car alarms typically remain silent, he said. “They don’t use power tools and they usually have a lookout,” he said.

“Even if it takes them a while, they have all night.”

Joining the group of the most extensively stripped BMWs were two other M5 sedans in northwest Glendale that were stripped of their badges, hubcap emblems, side panels and bumpers on June 15, causing an estimated $2,500 in damage, according to police reports.

That same day, a BMW 325 had its headlights and fog lamps stolen while parked on the street.

The best defense against the thieves is parking in a secure, private garage, he said. If parking on the street, look for good light and high traffic, even in subterranean garages, which can often give drivers a false sense of security, he added.

In May, the owner of a BMW 750iL discovered his car atop four cement blocks and missing all four tires and wheels, while parked in a underground garage for an office building on North Brand Boulevard.

That burglary caused an estimated $3,000 in damage and missing property, according to police reports.

Anyone with information regarding any of the burglaries can call Glendale Police at (818) 548-4840 or the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip hotline at (818) 507-7867.


  • JASON WELLS covers public safety and the courts. He may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at jason.wellslatimes.com.

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