“We weren’t sure how they got into the lot,” Thoma said. “The lot’s very secure. Somehow or another we had a breach...But they came in and unfortunately removed several cars off the property.”
The group managed to follow an employee who was leaving out the electric gate that had a delay.
“They followed directly behind him,” Thoma said.
The suspects drove with their lights off, making it difficult for employees to know that the cars were coming.
During the third incident, when a fifth vehicle was stolen, a suspect almost hit one of the company’s employees.
“He had just gotten out to drop paperwork for an impounded vehicle he brought in,” Thoma explained. “As he was walking across, this vehicle crashed right through the gate and almost hit him. Luckily he was not hurt whatsoever.”
On July 27, the second incident, the suspects tried to climb the fence to enter. Thoma said employees were able to chase them off before they hit the interior electric fence.
“They would’ve been entangled and that’s not good,” he said.
While Thoma is relieved that Dayton police have three suspects in custody and are searching for more, he said the experience is frustrating.
“You think you’re running a good business, a secure business, and next thing you know you’re out tens of thousands of dollars in repairs and damage and extra security,” he said. “We haven’t had problems here in years. Then for all this to happen over a four-day period is very frustrating.”
Despite the costs, Thoma’s ultimate concern is his employees’ safety.
“I’m more concerned about my drivers’ safety and our employees’ safety than I am anything else out of this,” he said.
Another frustrating aspect for Thoma is that the incidents appeared to be a game for the suspects.
“I don’t think it was a situation where they were trying to get gain out of it,” he said. “It was more of a joyride situation, if they could get a vehicle out.”
Since the break-ins, Sandy’s Towing has made multiple changes to increase security.
“We totally changed out how vehicles come in and out of the gate for one,” Thoma said. “We’ve done a complete perimeter check as we sit on 19 acres here.”
However, Thoma also knows it’s a matter of staying one step ahead of potential criminals.
“Criminals are going to do what they want. They want in, they’re going to get in,” he said. “A thief’s a thief and they know how to do things.”