“Did I just read what I think I read?”

It was early Saturday morning and I’d only had a few sips of my morning Joe when I eyed this Detroit Free Press story in my Google feed. The headline struck me as too unbelievable to be true and I figured someone in Kentucky where the Gannett-owned Free Press is edited messed up.

Here’s the headline so you can see for yourself I’m not making this up.

The headline was spot on: Thirteen brand spanking new 2022 Ford F-150 Raptor pickup trucks were stolen from a Dearborn truck factory plant that’s within spitting distance of Ford’s World Headquarters where CEO Jim Farley presumably works when he’s in town. Raptor trucks have a base model price of $69,905 but people who buy these vehicles like them tarted up with fancy options and trims. Ford’s estimated loss was about $1 million.

The Free Press article said that Ford reported the trucks missing with “multiple calls” beginning on June 10 and then throughout the following weekend. That suggests it took Ford some time before the company realized that more than $1 million worth of inventory had vanished.  

Reading the story a second time to make sure I understood it correctly, I noticed links to these three stories.

Mmm. Seems like vehicle “shrinkage” as they say in the retail industry is a growing problem for the automakers. The Mustang heist involved six high performance vehicles valued at $240,000 stolen from Ford’s Flat Rock plant. The Lansing factory heist involved possibly as many as eight of GM’s Chevy Camaros valued at nearly $500,00. The five Ram trucks of undisclosed value were from the 2018 model year and stolen from an assembly plant in Warren.

It’s a measure of my naiveté that I wrongly assumed the factory lots holding newly manufactured vehicles would rank only second to Fort Knox in terms of security fortification. I imagined armed guards trained as snipers in the military roaming the properties and under orders to “shoot first and ask questions later.” I expected security cameras galore covered every inch of the properties and that state-of-the-art manifest scanners verified cargo before a gate opened and a truck could roll out into the sunset.

Farley and GM CEO Mary Barra respectively took home $23 million and $29 million in compensation last year. I figured that protecting costly inventory was among the reasons they commanded the big bucks.

Fondness for Michigan

Given my fondness for Michigan, I confess to initially taking pride in the brazenness of the state’s car and truck thieves and their abilities to outsmart the best security protections Farley and Barra could muster.

The thieves in my adopted state of California are lazy cowards by comparison. They engage in a practice known as “smash and grab” whereby they smash a store’s window and make off with all the merchandise they can carry. Electronics, jewelry, designer clothes – that sort of stuff. And there isn’t much risk: California’s politicians don’t want people getting punished for what was once called “looting” so thieves are assured they can sleep in their own beds at night even if they get caught.

I’d be impressed with a thief who successfully made off with just one Ford F-150 Raptor truck off the factory lot. Pilfering 13 of them takes as much skill as it does chutzpa because the F-150 Raptor truck is crafted to be what’s known in automotive parlance as an “in your face” vehicle.

F-150 Raptor/Ford photo

Here’s how Car and Driver describes the vehicle.

Think of the 2022 Ford F-150 Raptor as a pickup truck on steroids. Compared with the regular F-150, its body is bulkier, its powertrain is stouter, and its chassis is enhanced to endure more punishment in muddy, rocky, and sandy environments … the Raptor is the biggest and baddest F-150 money can buy, earning it a place on our Editors’ Choice list.

The baddest pickup truck thieves demand the baddest vehicles money can buy!

The six new stolen Mustangs weren’t the run-of-the-mill Ford Ponies. They were the Shelby GT 500s that list for $80,000.

Mustang Shelby GT 500/Ford photo

Here’s how a Car and Driver writer orgasmed just writing about the vehicle.

Think of the 2022 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 kind of like a rolling theme park. Its monstrous 760-hp supercharged V-8 launches the coupe with eye-watering force, and its immense grip causes sensations of euphoria or nausea or both. All the while its thrilling exhaust note provides the soundtrack, and a rapid-shifting automatic transmission handles gearchanges for the rear-drive-only coupe. The Shelby GT500 isn’t just the mightiest Mustang ever, it’s also the most powerful road car Ford has ever built.

Despite the ability to soil people’s undergarments on demand, it’s still a Mustang at heart.

Fortunately, a Depends diaper dispenser comes standard with all Shelby Mustangs.  

No respect for the environment

Upon further consideration, my awe for Michigan’s automotive thieves diminished. These people clearly have no respect for the environment.

The Raptor’s EPA is 15 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway, while the Mustang Shelby gets 12 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway. On its way to building “zero emissions” vehicles Ford hopes to continue polluting the environment with pricey vehicles engineered to do as much climate damage as possible.

Some Mustang Shelby thieves didn’t factor the poor mileage in their escape plans.

Ford’s Jim Farley

According to industry source, new cars and trucks have less than a gallon of gas in their tanks when they are stored on factory lots. Three of the stolen Mustang Shelbys were abandoned by the thieves after they ran out of gas. I’d expect someone brazen enough to steal cars and trucks from a factory lot would be savvy enough to invest in a jerry can.

Stealing Ford vehicles is recklessly irresponsible on the safety front because the company won’t know where to send its routine recall notices.

Time honored tradition

My industry source said that stealing luxury or muscle vehicles off the automakers’ factory lots is a time-honored Michigan tradition, although the thievery was once more “organized” if you catch my drift. The Mafia once had a knack for making Cadillacs disappear from factory lots, but the brand has become so faded that among gangsters with self respect the vehicle is no longer deemed worth stealing.

GM’s Mary Barra

My source says Michigan auto thieves today are mostly kids and that stealing vehicles from factory lots doesn’t take as much skill as I assumed. The vehicles’ keys are left inside, so no hot wiring is required to get them started. One person leads the way and barrels through a gate or fence and then the others drive through the opening. The factory lot guards are paid close to minimum wage, so they’re not all that motivated to give chase.

Seems to me that one possible security solution would be to build concrete walls around the perimeter of factory lots, but if I was as smart and wise as Farley and Barra I, too, would be earning tens of millions of dollars a year for my wisdom.

News reports said most of the stolen factory vehicles were recovered, albeit with minor damages. Those in the market for “slightly used” pricey muscle cars and trucks would be wise to inquire about who previously used them.

Display photo credit: ©atmosphere1/123RF.COM

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