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Car Thieves May Be Targeting Older Models

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MAPLEWOOD, MO (KTVI)-- Police are seeing a surge in a certain type of stolen car- older models.  Detectives are noticing car thieves targeting vehicles from the early 90's, including the March 7th Maplewood carjacking.  Fox 2`s Chris Hayes reveals how police are looking at a possible tie between the auto thefts and a new Missouri law.

Maplewood police say thieves may be targeting the Maplewood Commons parking lot, looking for older model cars.

Sgt. Matt Nighbor said, "We have seen an increase in early model, 90's models, being stolen, specifically from that area."

Sgt. Nighbor said most of the cars stolen in maplewood this year are 1990`s models.  He added, "We`re trying to figure out why and where these vehicles are going so we are working with other agencies who are having similar auto thefts."

Last week`s Maplewood carjacking, involved a 92 GMC pickup. That`s the case where the victim jumped into the back of his pickup, broke out the rear window and fought the suspect before that suspect escaped with his truck.  Maplewood Police say they`ve identified the suspect who`s currently in custody in St. Clair County Illinois, on unrelated charges.

St. Louis County Police also report an increase in older model car thefts.  The auto theft task force is investigating whether this surge is tied to a new Missouri law that allows people to sell some older model vehicles without a title.

The law was intended to help rural landowners get rid of broken down vehicles, with the help of salvage yards. Brock Auto Parts and Recycling`s owner Roger Brockman said it would be a great law if everyone had good intentions.  Brockman explained, "It would be easy for a non-scrupulous person to take a vehicle off a parking lot, off somebody`s back yard, that`s 10 years old, 20 years old and just go sell it, which they weren`t able to do before without this law."

Brockman said he`s seen the signs.  He said, "One particular car was a '97 Chevy Pickup that had the ignition punched.  It looked like a pretty decent truck and the guy wanted to sell it for me for scrap and I wouldn`t buy it."

I talked to the State Rep who pushed the new law that contains this salvage language.  He said the car must be inoperable and that it`s strictly defined in the law.  So he challenged law enforcement to investigate and crack down on anyone who might be trying to use the law to commit crimes.

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