Thieves target specific models of Ford trucks in Pinellas County

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In Pinellas County, thieves are targeting trucks. 

Officials say there’s been a rash of pickups stolen this year, and almost every single one of them was locked.

A security camera captured the crime in action on October 14. 

After driving to a Clearwater neighborhood, a thief manages to break into a truck, start the engine, and steal it right from the owner’s driveway. 

The entire job took less than five minutes.

“It’s alarming to see how quickly these particular thieves took this victim’s vehicle,” said Corporal Dan DiFrancesco with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

He says, what’s even more alarming is a recent, county-wide spike in thefts of Ford F-250 and F-350 diesel trucks, model years 2001 to 2010. 

So far this year, 15 pickups have been taken.

“In most cases, they’re locked,” DiFrancesco said. “The keys not left in it, the vehicles locked, that’s what’s concerning.”

Turns out, those specific F-Series models are being targeted because of their keys.

Most newer vehicles come with transponder keys that contain a small computer chip inside. Without that chip, you usually can’t start the engine.

“You can pick the lock, you would be able to crank the ignition, but it won’t start the car,” explained Moshe Rozia from iMLocksmith.

He says those later model Ford pickups don’t have chips in the keys, making them easier to steal.

“If they got the right tools, and they know what they doing, it’s a matter of seconds for them to steal it,” Rozia said.

The sheriff’s office says these crooks have gotten good at getting into locked trucks and manipulating the ignition, and it’s not just a problem in Pinellas.

“What’s a little bit more concerning is we’re not getting these trucks back, we’re not recovering these vehicles, which would give us an indication that this is a bigger problem,” said DiFrancesco.

If you have a Ford F-250 or F-350 diesel truck that’s model year 2001 to 2010, officials urge extra precautions to protect your property. Besides always locking the doors, they suggest keeping your pickup in a garage, buying a steering wheel lock, and installing an alarm or a GPS monitor.