That Time A Guy Stole A Range Rover Sport SVR
Dealership break ins happen all the time. You ask any dealership and they'll sheepishly admit that they get broken into at least a couple of times a year (in most cases much more). It's actually very logical on the grand theft auto front. The thought process is almost sophisticated. Why should I invade someone's house and risk a violent confrontation if I can commit a holdup and have a choice of whatever vehicle I want?
Of course no-one actually robs a dealership while there are people there. Car salesman normally have more pride in their cars and jobs then anything else on earth. It honestly wouldn't surprise me if half the dealership staff we have would take a bullet for these cars. I know insurance does every time we have a car stolen or damaged. Besides the point though thieves normally try to gain access to dealerships when there isn't anyone there.
I've seen almost every method and Mission Impossible style break in as well. For example, someone once tried to hit the front window of our Land Rover dealership with an ice pick. Yes that massive steel hook that mountain climbers use to scale rocks (probably stolen as well). Or there was a time that thieves tried to use a massive multiple KG sledge hammer to wedge two sets of front doors open, only to drive the unreleased and unregistered Audi Q2 through the front windows they'd wedged open. I mean number 1, why in gods name would you steal and unreleased and unregistered car (the Audi Q2 of all cars as well). But number 2, you have a multiple KG sledge hammer and you use it to wedge the front doors open, only to smash them with the car anyway.
There is one heist that sticks out in my mind though, one that was far more brazen then either of those robberies. And it changed our test drive policy forever. Remember how I said thieves normally try to gain access to a dealership when people aren't there? Well, there was one time when they walked straight through the front door.
I'm going to give you my first hand account of the whole thing, because whilst it's a bit of an anti-climax, it's how I experienced it. I have an office above our Land Rover dealership here in Geelong. There was one day where I'd wandered down for lunch to notice a sheepish man standing in the reception area with what was obviously white fake Oakley sunglasses and a hugely over sized suit. See I have to admit, I've never sold a car in my life and normally never have direct contact with customers. But the man was standing in front of our coffee machine, a location I needed to get to. Desperately.
Anyway, as a marketer my job is unfortunately to judge people. I can normally pick who our customers are and who they are not a mile away. The sales people and sales manager don't have the same luxury. They normally have to take people on face value. And whilst I'm judgmental? That's how I'd prefer them to be. I mean we've had some ridiculous customers over the years. People who have just won the lottery and look like they've walked out of a drain pipe for example.
That aside there's a bit difference between a humble man and a bad man. I'm not spiritual at all, but everyone can tell the difference. I walked up to the coffee machine, and the man staring straight at me didn't move. That one irked me to start with. I mean I need a coffee, why can't you just take two steps to the left. As politely as possible and with a smile I said "excuse me". Staying silent and quite intimidatingly the man stepped to the side.
After making my coffee I walked out onto the floor. And asked what the man's deal was. One of our sales people told me that he owned a construction business and was looking to test drive the Range Rover Sport SVR. One of the most expensive and fastest Range Rovers on range. With only two sales staff on the floor that day the decision had been made to let him test drive the car on his own. It was a slow month in dealership and the team wanted to drive some traffic. All valid points in my mind, so I moved on and forgot about it.
About two hours later I'd wandered out to hop into my car for a meeting at another of our dealerships. Astutely, I'd noticed that the Range Rover Sport SVR still had not returned. For a car like that? A two hour test drive seemed a bit of a stretch. But everyone in dealership was busy and I figured someone else had the problem sorted.
I returned about an hour later to two extremely flustered sales people. I walked in with a puzzled look on my face. "What's wrong?"
"The SVR hasn't been returned yet."
"Well has anyone called the guy driving it?"
"Yes, the phone line is disconnected."
"Okay, well we have his details. Let's call the Police."
So that's what we did, giving them all the details of the customer. Except that there was no licenses issued to the man's name. There actually wasn't any birth certificate issued to the name either. It was at that stage that the Police sent detectives to the showroom. It was about closing time and they seemed equally concerned. I mean a utility vehicle with plenty of space that can do 0-100km in 4.4 seconds? That's much faster than any cop car in Australia. Hell you'd be lucky to keep up with it in an air-wing unit.
The coming morning detectives were once again at the showroom. Announcing that the car had indeed been in a pursuit about 100km away from the dealership and that they hadn't caught the perpetrators as of yet. They had figured out who had actually stolen the vehicle though. Turns out he'd done the same thing multiple times before as well. He actually sounded like a bit of a car enthusiast. Christ if he had have had a suit that actually fits I might've sat down and had a coffee with him. Though the white fake Oakleys were still a set off.
Later that week the Police informed us that they'd recovered the vehicle, or what was left of it. Turns out that the car had been used in multiple ram raid robberies. Police had found heavy tools in the back but no sign of the thieves. The front of the vehicle was smashed up to the point the front left wheel had totally buckled. Police estimated almost $160,000 to be missing from multiple fuel stations, liquor stores and newsagents (this was only a couple of years ago, I don't know why they thought that a newsagent would have any money, but sure).
So the criminals eventually got caught and sent to prison for grand theft auto, aggravated robbery, assault and a whole slather of multiple other crimes. But not before outrunning the police a staggering 4 times in the Range Rover Sport SVR. I mean I know Jaguar uses the tag line - "it's good to be bad". But 4 times has got to be a world record in one vehicle? That's encroaching on video game territory.
There is a point behind all of this though. Unless you're a customer who has bought off any dealership multiple times and has a developed relationship with the sales person they're buying off? It's highly likely a dealership is going to ask that your staff member accompanies you on your test drive. It's not because they want to sell to you whilst in the car, though trust me they probably will. No, it's just to make sure that your definition of test driving a car is not ram raiding multiple cashiers and using a supercharged SUV to outrun Police on multiple occasions. Let's be honest though, that's been done before.