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Mesa PD: Thieves target truck tailgates

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MESA, AZ (CBS5) -

If you own a truck, watch out!

Thieves might be targeting your backside.

Not only are tailgates profitable, they're easy to steal.

"General rule of thumb - some of these guys are working in crews," said Eugene Harwood, manager of All Arizona Auto Recyclers in Phoenix. "You got somebody driving; you got a couple of people on the ground. It makes it simple. Two people at a time; boom, they're gone. Off to the next one."

That's exactly what Mesa police said happened on Oct. 26 in the parking lot of Red Mountain High School.

Police said two suspects hit the campus during the middle of the day in a newer model, black Ford F-150 Crew Cab.

"There were a total of three tailgates stolen and one tonto cover in a matter of just a few minutes," said Mesa police Sgt. Tony Landato. "So, it only takes a few seconds to get these tailgates off."

Harwood tells CBS5 the best way to guard against theft is to lock your tailgate, which many people forget to do.

If your tailgate doesn't have a factory lock, you can buy an after-market one at most auto parts stores.

"Tailgate locks are anywhere from $20 to $100 just to help secure your vehicle," said Sgt. Landato. "Having said that, as with any crime, there's really no substitute for vigilance."

Harwood points out thieves will usually pass on a locked tailgate.

However, those they're able to swipe can make them up to a couple hundred dollars on the street or on websites like Craigslist.

In Arizona, it's illegal for scrap yards to buy auto parts.

But Harwood cautions there are some shady operations out there that don't follow the rules.

"Every vehicle in our yard, we have paper on it and before we part it out, there's a dismantling request that goes in," he said. "And then you follow certain procedure by state law."

If you have any information about the tailgate thefts at Red Mountain High School, Mesa police urge you to submit a tip on CrimeReports.com.

You can also text a tip to 274-CRIMES.

Begin your text message with MESAPD and reference the report number 20123000450.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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