Dealerships react to arrest of grand theft suspect

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A Sioux Falls teenager is behind bars, accused of breaking into a handful of dealerships and getting away with nine stolen cars. And this is not his first run in with the law.

19-year-old Daren Bagola’s latest charges include burglary and grand theft. Police say he’s been stealing cars from east side dealerships since April, and investigators have surveillance video and other evidence to prove it.

“In this case it was kind of a snowball effect that they were able to tie this person to all of these different burglaries and thefts,” officer Sam Clemens said.

If the crime sounds familiar, that’s because Bagola was was accused of breaking into the Blue Nile dealership a year ago and getting away with multiple cars.

The crimes had a big impact on the city’s smaller car dealerships.

After getting the news from police, KELOLAND News reached out to managers at Green Light Auto on East 10th St and J & R auto sales on North Cliff Ave. Even though they got the vehicles back, it still cost them a lot of money to to get their businesses back to normal.

“I walked into my office door here, and this window was shattered. Broke out. There’s glass everywhere,” Green Light Auto sales manager Rick Rasmussen said.

On April 3, someone broke into Green Light Auto and tore apart the office.

“All my paperwork, all my office files, everything and I had the keyboard back behind here, and they grabbed that, so they took all the keys and then they just picked a vehicle off the keyboard, and they went out there and they took two vehicles that they wanted the most,” Rasmussen said.

19-year old Daren Bagola is charged with the crimes at Green Light Auto and a handful of others. J & R Auto Sales was the victim of a similar crime in May.

“They broke into the building and tried to gain access to where we used to keep the keys. When they couldn’t, they had to come out and re-break another window, and they stole about 25 sets of keys,” J & R Auto Sales service manager Brian Jasper said.

J & R Auto Sales eventually got all four vehicles back, but it cost money to tow the cars, replace keys and upgrade security.

“Extra lighting we put in. Extra cameras. We got bars coming for the windows,” Jasper said. “The keys are not left on premises at none of our locations. You have to take extra steps and it’s a hassle.”

“We actually take the keys home with us now. We did get cameras set up now everywhere, and you know, just a little bit more security for around here,” Rasmussen said.

And while one person is behind bars, the businesses know he didn’t work alone.

“The ring leader has been caught, but all of his underlings are still out there,” Jasper said. “I don’t think they had the guts to do it, because he was the one breaking into everywhere. It wasn’t just him and everyone knows it just wasn’t him, because how do you steal four cars. You’ve got have somebody driving them away.”

J & R Auto Sales is not listed in court papers, but the Jasper has compared surveillance pictures with other dealerships and is confident the same man hit his lot too. Police say more arrests are possible.

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