by Diana Rocco

BURLINGTON Twp., N.J., (CBS) – Pictures show a major heist from a car dealership.  Three thieves sneak into a Burlington Township Volkswagon and steal over $57,000 worth of catalytic converters.

“How we noticed it was missing is all the hardware was laying underneath the cars, the clamps and things like that hold the cats on,” said Jim McKenna of Burlington Township Volkswagon.

The dealership tried to start up the cars the next morning and immediately knew they had a problem.  They immediately looked at the cameras.

“It showed three guys come in at 12:25 a.m. and left at 4:18 a.m., three guys here for a good four hours,” said McKenna.

In total, 23 cars were hit, all new inventory and one customer car in the shop getting serviced.   Police say three men cut a hole in the fence and snuck into the yard after midnight last week and went to work.  They put the cars on lifts and took the prized part from underneath, worth up to $3,500 brand new.

“The catalytic converters, because they’ve got platinum inside, there’s a scrap value and a black market value on the these parts after market,” said McKenna.

It seems the men took their time, seen walking around the yard in these pictures dressed in dark clothes and wearing gloves.  Police say they may be dealing with professionals.

“They absolutely knew what they were doing in order to lift cars up and get underneath the vehicles that were low to the ground,” said Detective Christopher Ent of the Burlington Township Police Department.

The dealership has security, but it didn’t go off.  They say they will now be upgrading.

“We’ve got surveillance, we’ve got alarms, motion detectors, somehow they were able to get around it,” said McKenna.

And police say the thieves knew what they were looking for.

They didn’t cut the parts out of the cars, but rather used tools to remove them without damaging the vehicles.  A dealership in Freehold was also hit with in the last week.  Police are now looking to see if it’s related.

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