Cars stolen once, then stolen a second time while being repaired in South City

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is investigating a break-in and theft early Saturday morning at Columbia Auto Repair on Southwest Avenue.

Thieves stole two cars, a Kia and a Hyundai, both had been stolen before and were getting repairs made from the damage from the first thefts.

Joe Barbaglia is the owner of Columbia Auto Repair.

“The biggest frustration is the customer because you have to tell the customer their car was stolen again,” he said.

The thieves used a landscaping block to break a window to the office. Once inside, they can be seen on surveillance video taking plastic sleeves that have each customer’s car keys and repair ticket.

Barbaglia said the thieves left behind the keys to the Kia and Hyundai and apparently hotwired them using the simple method that’s led to a rash of thefts of Kias and Hyundais.

Caleb Wilson owns one of the stolen cars.

“I bought a club for my steering wheel, I didn’t even get a chance to use it yet,” he said.

Wilson’s burgundy Hyundai Sonata was stolen for the first time in the first week of August. He said he’d parked it on the street near Victoria Avenue and Graham Street and when he came out to go to work, it was gone.

He said he was able to recover his car thanks to posts on social media. And that the car had been in the shop a couple of weeks while waiting for parts to arrive. He’s hopeful about getting it back, again.

“I’ve got insurance, so that’s truly a blessing right now. But I would also say I got lucky once, who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky again,” said Wilson.

Barbaglia said he’s been told by police that five people were involved in the thefts and that two were later arrested driving a stolen car. He said the suspects are 13 and 15 years old.

After the break-in, Barbaglia said he has plans to upgrade his security system.

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