Thieves took three tailgates, each valued at $5k, off a car lot on Dale Mabry Sunday night

TAMPA - Three tailgates, valued at $5000 a piece, were stolen off pickup trucks on a car lot off Dale Mabry Sunday night.

The theft came just three days after the National Insurance Crime Bureau reported there were more than 1,300 claims related to pickup truck tailgates between 2006 and 2012. 

Florida ranks among the top five states when it comes to reported tailgate thefts. 

"We live in a crazy world," said Lou Pepe, an employee of Bill Currie Ford on Dale Mabry.

Tailgates can be stolen in less than 60 seconds, making them attractive to thieves.

Pepe, who has been with the Ford company for 15 years, says this is the first time in his career he has seen this type of theft.

"I've seen a tire once.  A piece of molding.  But a tailgate, this is the first time."

According to Pepe, the tailgates are sold for scrap, listed for sale online or even sold to auto body shops.

A surveillance camera pointed at the trucks was not working when the car lot was hit.  It is back up and running now, but dealership owners have also locked all the tailgates.

"It is a deterrent," Pepe added.

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