COO of Rochester manufacturer targeted by car thieves says system tells criminals ‘it’s OK to steal’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. The head of a manufacturing company in Rochester hit by car thefts and vandalism said it feels like the whole system is telling teenagers it’s OK to steal.

The latest theft happened late last week. Security camera video shows a silver minivan casing the parking lot of IntelliMetal just off Mount Read Boulevard. A passenger gets out of the minivan and goes car to car and finds a Jeep that was open. Ten seconds after he gets in, the Jeep and the minivan take off. The thieves weren’t on the property for very long.

Tom Mattle, Facilities Manager, IntelliMetal: “Approximately three minutes.”
Brean: “That’s pretty quick.”
Mattle: “Yeah, it was.”

Mattle is the building manager. Mark Woodhams is IntelliMetal’s chief operating officer.

“The judicial system and the whole political environment right now is just telling criminals it’s OK to steal,” Woodhams said.

After the theft, Woodhams learned about a suspicious SUV in his other parking lot. Woodhams says he confronted the driver and snapped a picture of the SUV before it sped away. Monday night, vandals hit the employees’ cars again.

Woodhams and the heads of the other companies here have met with police and asked for help. One of Woodhams’ emails detailed what they’ve been through in the last few months, from thefts of catalytic converters to “men in ski masks.”

Brean: “Can RPD patrol this area more?”
Jose Peo, Rochester City Council: “So what’s happening in the city is that there is so much going on and there are so few cops. We had five police officers who just retired Friday of last week. Five retired.”

Jose Peo is on the Rochester City Council. In addition to the shortage of police officers, Peo also doesn’t think RPD can be a private security force for private businesses. He does think lack of accountability is one of the reasons behind the crime.

“We have young teenagers who know they can steal these vehicles,” he said. “They know they can steal parts, and they’ll be out within an hour after being caught to go out and do the same exact thing. It’s insane out here.”

Peo said the companies targeted in a tech park off Mt. Read Boulevard employ a lot of people who deserve safety.

“Maybe we should look at holding the parents accountable?” Peo wondered. “They are responsible for their children. They’re accountable for their own children. If their child gets caught doing something illegal with a stolen vehicle, why not hold that parent’s insurance company accountable?”

RPD reports 164 stolen cars in the last two weeks.