By Brad Segall

UPPER DARBY, Pa. (CBS) — Authorities in Delaware County are warning contractors to keep a close eye on their trucks after nearly two dozen work vans and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tools were stolen over the last six weeks.

Law enforcement officials from several departments are now working together, comparing notes as they try to find what they believe is a band of professional thieves targeting works vans.

But it’s not the vans they’re interested in — it’s what’s inside.

Upper Darby police superintendent Michael Chitwood says some of the vans have been found abandoned in Southwest Philadelphia, the contents gone.

“The thieves break into the lock, and then they’re able to start the trucks and take off,” Chitwood says.  “A couple of the trucks had GPS systems on them, and they were able to find them and get rid of them so you couldn’t track where the trucks were.”

He believes the thieves have a way of disposing of the tools and equipment inside the vans.  He estimates that nearly half a million dollars worth of tools has already been stolen countywide.

“We’ve had Peco trucks, we’ve had other electrical trucks, we’ve had plumbing trucks, we’ve had construction trucks — usually vans, minivans, or box trucks.”

He suggests that contractors park their trucks in garages at night or block them in with other cars.

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