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Cops: Bandit prefers Jeep batteries

In recent months, someone has been stealing vehicle batteries from Jeeps and other vehicles in various neighborhoods in the city, police said.

A man steals a Jeep Wrangler battery on the 2000 block of Lombard Street June 20.
A man steals a Jeep Wrangler battery on the 2000 block of Lombard Street June 20.Read morePhiladelphia Police

An energized bandit has been stealing batteries from Jeeps in Center City and other neighborhoods, police said Tuesday.

Over the last couple of months, 26 vehicle batteries have been stolen, 22 of them from Jeeps, and most of those from Jeep Wranglers, Lt. Martin Bernard of the Major Crimes Unit said.

"The problem with the Jeeps is they don't have a locking mechanism" on the hood, Bernard said. "It's kind of like leaving your diamond ring on a table in the restaurant."

Surveillance video captured one theft June 20 on the 2000 block of Lombard Street.

The thief, described as a white or Hispanic man about 6 feet tall, slim, with salt-and-pepper sideburns and a goatee, is seen in the video exiting a Honda Civic, then walking to a Jeep Wrangler. He lifts the hood, removes the battery, and walks back to the Honda, placing the battery inside, police said.

Based on other surveillance video, police believe the same man is committing all the battery thefts.

Besides Center City, the thefts have taken place in the Kensington area, parts of South Philadelphia, and other neighborhoods.

"I don't see the value of it," Bernard said. "You're not going to make a living off of it. He's probably selling them to a junkyard for scrap."

A dealership would have no interest in a used battery, he said.

Jeep owners could buy a locking mechanism to be installed by a dealership to prevent theft, Bernard said.

In addition to the battery thefts, Bernard said, four Jeep Wranglers have been stolen since June. Those thefts occurred in University City, Center City, and Port Richmond, he said. Police say there could be a link between the vehicle and battery thefts.

Tipsters should call the Major Crimes Unit at 215-685-9130 or the police tip line at 215-686-TIPS (8477). Tips, which can be anonymous, can also be submitted online.