I know what you are thinking; that title must be clickbait. I assure you, it’s not. In fact, it shouldn’t even be that surprising. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute’s 2019 study, Dodge vehicles with big engines are the most stolen vehicles on the road. The Dodge Charger HEMI and Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat top the most stolen list. So it makes sense that the Durango Hellcat would join these commonly stolen models. Fun side note, the Tesla Model S and X are the least-stolen vehicles. Is it because they are hard to steal or because nobody wants them?
After purchasing the Dodge Durango Hellcat, my husband began looking for aftermarket security systems. We live in a low-crime area, so it wasn’t an immediate priority. However, we did take some steps to secure our new vehicle purchase.
Stock Dodge Features
It really would be nice if Dodge built more stock security features into the Durango Hellcat. There is a stock security system that disables the ignition from starting without the correct original manufacturer key. However, as we learned the hard way, it is essentially useless. After smashing a window, the thieves programmed a key and were able to start the vehicle.
T-Mobile SyncUP DRIVE
I work for myself as a freelance content writer. Because of this, I only need my laptop and an internet connection, and I can work anywhere. I tend to work in the car during the ten-hour drive to Highlands, North Carolina, while my husband drives. We decided to purchase T-Mobile’s SyncUP DRIVE service for the Dodge Durango. You plug a little device into the vehicle, and it lets you monitor the vehicle’s health status, turn it into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, location monitoring, and provide roadside assistance. We thought it would be useful for connectivity while traveling. However, we didn’t know just how valuable this service would be.
Dodge Durango Hellcat Stolen
My mother-in-law has been saying she is going to retire for over 15 years now. She finally committed to filing the retirement paperwork in 2020… and then Covid-19 happened. As essential personnel and upper-level management in a prominent hospital, her retirement paperwork was frozen. Fast forward to 2022, and she is finally serious about retiring, and her paperwork is in the processing stage. In preparation, my husband and father drove the Durango Hellcat and motorcycle trailer north to bring some of her belongings to Florida. They left Florida at 3 am and drove the 14 hours up I75 and I95 until they reached her home in North Bethesda, MD. After arriving in the afternoon, they all drove to the airport to pick up my husband’s brother from the airport. The next day, they packed the trailer and car solid full of her belongings. To celebrate, they went to a great feast for dinner and then early to bed.
Upon waking the next morning at 3 am, they got ready for another day of long driving and headed downstairs. At 4 am, they headed downstairs and out the doors of her apartment building, only to find two empty street parking spaces where the SUV and trailer should have been. At first, he thought it was towed. After checking his SyncUp DRIVE app, my husband quickly determined that the vehicle was stolen and not towed. And thus began the longest day ever as they recovered the vehicle, then the trailer, and figured out what to do with both.
Because we have active vehicle tracking on the vehicle, recovery was relatively simple and fast. My husband was able to call the police, report the theft, and tell them the location of the vehicle. It was recovered abandoned on the side of the road within 30 minutes of discovering the theft.
Thankfully, there was minimal damage. There is was, sitting on the side of the road. Upon further inspection, a rear passenger window was broken. However, there was no other obvious and readily noticeable exterior body damage. Upon looking inside the vehicle, several body panels were ripped out in the dash and center console. The infotainment screen and radio were pulled out, and the ECU was stolen. Several personal items were stolen, including my husband’s entire gym kit, a radar detector, a gun magazine clip, and clothing.
We have car insurance through USAA, so having the vehicle towed to the nearest Dodge dealership was simple. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t start, so there was no driving it.
Upon finding the Durango, it was quickly determined that the trailer was not with it. We were all thinking the worst; the trailer was gone for good. It was a beautiful custom trailer that was set up for hauling motorcycles. It is only a few months old. We are confident that the thieves thought they were stealing expensive motorcycles and not a woman’s housewares. Around 9 in the morning, I received a phone call from a police officer. He explained that he found my trailer abandoned in the middle of a Mexican restaurant’s parking lot. I explained that I was in Florida and my husband was moving his mother to MD. After getting him the correct contact information, the office worked with my husband to move the trailer out of the parking lot.
My mother-in-law was devastated, thinking all of her belongings were gone forever. It turns out, the thieves were not interested in her furniture, boxes of towels, and antiques. The side and back door have damage. They got into the side door and opened one box. Everything else was left untouched.
Once the Durango got towed to the dealership for repairs, the next step was securing the trailer. They quickly learned that renting a truck and driving it down to Florida with the trailer wasn’t possible. The only option was to put the trailer in his mother’s apartment complex parking garage, fly home, drive my father’s truck up, and bring the trailer home. Unfortunately, the apartment building’s management decided not to cooperate. My mother-in-law lived in the building for 14 years. She faithfully paid her rent on time every month. She’s never caused any problems or issues. However, the one time she needed a little leeway, they ultimately failed her. After putting the trailer in the parking garage on Saturday, on Monday morning the management team threatened to have the trailer towed by 5 pm if it wasn’t removed. They weren’t understanding on any level. In fact, the only solution they offered was to put the trailer back out on the street, where it was just stolen. When asked if they could wait until Wednesday, they said absolutely not. So my husband and father hopped in the truck Monday after lunch and drove the 14 hours back up to Maryland. They hooked up the trailer and immediately turned around and drove back.
Two Months of Waiting
The vehicle and trailer were stolen the first week of November. I was hoping to post this after we got Super Max (our name for the Durango) back. However, here it is after the first of the year, and we are still waiting for it to be fixed! Apparently, the system system is a hot commodity, and the dealership was struggling to get one shipped in. My husband is not one for waiting around, so he called Dodge corporate to find out what the issue was. Turned out, all of the radios were going to the factory for new production vehicles. All orders for repairs were put on the the back burner. Corporate customer service apologized, a lot. They then opened a case for us and had a radio put aside specifically for our vehicle. As of Jan 2nd, it should be arriving at the dealership any day now. Once it is fixed, my husband will have to fly back up to Maryland to retrieve the vehicle and drive it home.
Unfortunately, a similar situation is happening with the trailer. Although, we told them that there was no rush. After all, how do we bring a trailer home if we don’t have a vehicle to tow it with?
We always thought that the area where his mother lived was safe. Unfortunately, it has taken a downturn in recent years. It was once safe to park on the street, but not so much anymore. This whole event has led his mother to feel more motivated to retire and move down to sunny Florida. The experience has also taught us that we need a more robust security system on the Dodge Durango Hellcat. Any money spent to prevent this from happening again in the future would be money well spent.