Tampa, Florida-- Sadly, these days it seems everything comes down to the almighty dollar. A rash of U-Haul thefts has detectives in Hillsborough and Polk counties worried.
In the last two months, 14 full-size trucks have been taken from mom and pop shops.
One thing deputies do not believe they're used for? Terrorism. The specific vehicles stolen are the biggest in the fleet, 26-foot trucks worth $60,000 a piece.
"It's incredibly costly for businesses. We believe the people stealing U-Hauls are taking the trucks to chop shops," explained Cristal Bermudez-Nunez from the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office.
Stores all over the Bay Area from Seffner to Thonotosassa to Lakeland to Winter Haven are being ripped off in the overnight hours. Thieves are hot-wiring the trucks and taking off, leaving local business owners stranded.
Nader Astfanous owns the S & J gas station along US 92 and is trying to put his children through medical school. The father was crushed when one of the trucks was missing from his store.
"I wish people knew that what they're doing hurts people. They've done this before," said Astfanous.
Luckily, the U-Haul trucks are insured, but businesses are still suffering because the parking spaces from the U-Haul trucks are empty.
The stores affected include Jigg's Junction Auto Repair in Plant City, P & N Food Mart in Dover, and AJs Food N Beverages in Thonotosassa.
If you recognize trucks like the 26-foot U-Haul and they just don't look quite right, don't hesitate to give the cops a call. They want to stop the U-Haul thieves before they get to the chop shop,where cops say it's over in a matter of seconds and the parts are gone.
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