Pick Up truck Tailgates join hubcaps as easy target for thieves

Hold on to your tailgates, pickup owners. Fast-acting, stealthy thieves are swiping them across Metro Detroit. It's a seemingly small crime flying under the radar of police and insurance companies as victims often avoid reporting the thefts to avoid paying deductibles and higher insurance rates.

Worse, by looking to unscrupulous body shop owners and online sites such as Craigslist to unload their wares, authorities say tailgate thieves are employing a black market to rip off even more parts.

Terry Hibdon lost a gate to thieves, and his brother Ron sells anti-theft devices at Lake Orion Truck Accessories.

"I've probably had a dozen customers who were robbed over the past six months or so," Ron Hibdon said. "I had one guy lost his tailgate last week and his insurance company shelled out $1,300 for a new one from a dealership."

Terry Hibdon, who owns Hibdon Motor Sales in Clinton Township, has gone so far as to remove the tailgates from the trucks on his lot so they can't be stolen. "I hate to present the trucks that way, but that's the way things are," he said. "I will also back the trucks right up against a brick wall so there's no room for thieves."

Authorities say it's hard to catch the crooks in the act.

"They come at night, make no noise and we have never caught one in the act or recovered the part," said Sgt. Dave Centala, a police detective in St. Clair Shores, a community that recently had five stolen in one night. Farther north in Clinton Township, thieves ripped off five tailgates two weeks ago.

Stealing a tailgate takes seconds if they aren't locked and just a minute or so if they are. Thieves often use their bare hands and sometimes a screwdriver. Detroit News

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