Dealerships across the country continue to be targets of vandalism and theft amid sometimes violent protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.
Stores from the Los Angeles area to St. Louis to Philadelphia were impacted by incidents Monday, bringing the total number of dealerships damaged or that have experienced looting to more than 20, according to Automotive News estimates and news reports.
More protests were planned in cities across the country Tuesday.
Toyota spokesman Scott Vazin said Tuesday that six Toyota and Lexus dealerships have suffered damage and/or are closed because of the protests, including stores in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. That was up from four stores impacted as of Monday.
The stores are Toyota Santa Monica and Lexus Santa Monica in California, Central City Toyota in Philadelphia, Toyota on Western in Chicago, McGrath Lexus of Chicago and Dolan Lexus in Reno, Nev. A Herb Chambers processing center for vehicles in Massachusetts also was broken into and some vehicles were stolen and damaged, Toyota spokesman Victor Vanov said.
Toyota on Western General Manager Ray Khouchaba told Automotive News that more than 30 cars were stolen from the dealership over the course of Sunday and Monday.
“We were able to find a couple of our cars, but there is a lot of them missing,” he said.
Khouchaba described the thefts as organized. The perpetrators stole car keys Sunday night and came back to steal the vehicles Monday night. He said the store was being boarded up, and he hoped to reopen in a few days.
McGrath Lexus of Chicago was closed Tuesday, the dealership group confirmed. In Reno, Ryan Dolan, CEO of Dolan Auto Group, said two new and two used vehicles were stolen from the Dolan Lexus dealership Saturday when a protest turned violent downtown, several miles from his store.
“I don’t think it was a coincidence we had four cars stolen during when all this was going on,” he said.
Two of the vehicles have been located and the store suffered no physical damage, Dolan said.
Don Brown Chevrolet was among at least 55 businesses burglarized during Monday’s unrest, though no vehicles were believed to have been stolen, a spokeswoman for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police told Automotive News. A message was left seeking comment from the dealership.
As protests have unfolded in dozens of cities, franchised dealerships have faced issues such as broken windows, vehicle thefts, vehicle vandalism and arson. Used-vehicle dealerships also have been targets, including one in Madison, Wis., where vehicles were stolen.
Nick Pacifico, vice president of Rickenbaugh Automotive Group in Denver, said Tuesday that one of the group’s downtown locations would move all of its nearly 360 vehicles indoors for the third night in a row to shield them as a precaution. The dealership, which sells and services Cadillac and Volvo vehicles, is in a location central to the disruption in downtown Denver. The store has 9,200 square feet of indoor space as well as an off-site warehouse to store inventory.
The store is under construction, so there are no windows to break, Pacifico said Monday.
“There’s two groups of people that are out here. The rioters are young punk white kids that are running around breaking stuff,” Pacifico said. “We figured, seeing what the rioters were doing, the cars would be too good of a target.”
The city’s fire department advised the store to close early Friday, but Pacifico said the store kept normal hours.
Concerns over the disruptions downtown, which began Thursday night and commenced every night through Sunday, have had a moderate impact on business. Demonstrations Monday were relatively peaceful. Pacifico estimated fewer than 10 vehicle sales that would have otherwise been closed over the weekend were delayed, particularly as more customers opted to finalize transactions in the store.
Pacifico said he was supportive of the protests but not the criminal activity that had begun later in the evenings.
“I understand if you’re angry at the government … but you shouldn’t be angry at the businesses that employ and support the people you love and care about,” he said.
Dealerships in some areas have opted to close their stores as a precaution or have been forced to close early because of curfews, such as in the Los Angeles area. In other cities, such as Walnut Creek, Calif., in the Bay Area, police urged businesses to close Monday ahead of planned protests. A general curfew was in effect for Tuesday.
Group 1 Automotive Inc.’s Mercedes-Benz of Beverly Hills in California had its showroom windows smashed, though there were no injuries, and no vehicles were vandalized, a spokesman said Monday.
It was one of several Mercedes-Benz stores that suffered damage. Mercedes-Benz confirmed Monday that “several of our stores (California, Arizona and Georgia) sustained significant damage caused by vandalism to their dealerships and vehicle inventory.”
The initial protests started May 26 in Minneapolis, a day after Floyd, an African-American man, died in police custody. The protests, which spread late last week and over the weekend, often have begun peacefully, but some have escalated to violence.
Penske Automotive Group confirmed Monday that it closed its Motorwerks BMW dealership in Bloomington, Minn., over the weekend. A spokesman said the large dealership is located near the Mall of America and Penske opted to take precautions. The store has reopened.
Several stores in the Philadelphia area also have experienced issues.
Value Kia in Philadelphia confirmed to Automotive News on Tuesday that the dealership was vandalized but had no further comment.
Krystal Hur, David Muller, Larry P. Vellequette and Urvaksh Karkaria contributed to this report.