Albuquerque mechanic: Thieves targeting older, American-made vehicles

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — Mechanics say thieves are honing in on American-made vehicles, ten years and older. They’re striking almost everywhere and it takes them mere seconds to get in.

“It’s surprisingly easy,” said Tom Potts.

He’s no car thief, but the mechanic and owner of TKS Automotive, Tom Potts, says it doesn’t take an expert.

“All they have to do is get this plastic to break, right around here,” explained Potts.

He says he’s seen enough broken door handles and lock cylinders to know how these crooks are getting in.

“The door lock cylinder falls back into the door,” he said, demonstrating with a broken handle.

Potts says he first noticed the trend about six months ago.

“We had three vehicles towed in the matter of three days,” said Potts.

The cars were the same make, almost the same year.

“They’re not going after the brand new stuff. They’re going after stuff that’s slightly older,” Potts said.

Potts says the hottest cars and trucks are between 1999 and 2007, all either Chevy’s or Fords, and all with damage to the lock, handle and ignition. He says the problem is the parts are made of cheap materials. It doesn’t take much to trick the car into thinking you used a key, not a screwdriver.

“These guys can be in a vehicle in probably 30 to 60 seconds,” Potts explained.

Once they’re inside, Potts says you have the same problem with the ignition.

These thieves are also getting bolder.They’re targeting people while they’re at work, in broad daylight.

Someone even stole a car from a school parking lot in the metro on Friday.

Potts says his shop alone has seen about a dozen vehicles come in due to theft damage in the last six months. Most of them were SUV’s. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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