We have previously reported that an increase in golf cart use has led to an inevitable rise in golf cart thefts. These thefts occur particularly within communities where there is a high street legal golf cart use, such as in Florida, South Carolina or California.
“Golf carts are becoming more popular as more municipalities are making it easier for them to be a form of transportation,” Tavares (Florida) senior detective Sean Dison said. “And it’s also very easy to take a golf cart.”
While many golf cart thefts are attributed to opportunistic “joy riders”, there has been an increase in thefts by more organized criminals who see them as easy targets to turn profit. One such theft in Tevares, Florida has shone a light on increasingly “professional” brand of criminal that is more often associated with auto theft.
The Orlando Sentinel recently reported that a custom golf cart was stolen from William Michaels’ car port. Initially thinking that his Club Car golf cart was stolen by kids on a joyride, parts of his cart were later found during a police raid on buildings that were used as part of a “chop shop” operation.
Inside three garages and a toolshed, police discovered hundreds of golf-cart parts – including wheels, canopy covers, headlights, turn-signal lights, axles, frames and even Michaels’ seats.
This is not the only golf cart chop shop found by police. Last March in Horry County, South Carolina, several people were indicted on charges of operating a chop shop with stolen golf-cart parts. This was the second chop shop Horry County police busted in the past year, Sgt. Robert Kegler explained.
“There’s a lot more money being put into golf carts today,” Kegler said. “Unfortunately, that makes them another vehicle for the bad guys to steal.”
Unfortunately, most golf carts use a universal key that can start most models and many owners do not install golf cart alarms. These anti-theft devices are present on most cars, and many criminals are switching to golf cart theft as it easier and money can be made on the stolen parts. With custom golf carts ranging in price from $3000 to over $30000 there’s always going to be rich pickings in this type of crime.