PORTLAND, Maine — New security measures have been put into place at the Portland Jetport after police say about two dozen cars were stolen from a rental car company over a four-month period.
Since last September, between 20 to 25 cars were stolen from car rental companies at the Portland Jetport. The majority of them from AVIS. That's according to Portland Police Department Lt. Robert Martin who says the thefts were an inside job.
"What we learned was a group of former employees that were stealing cars, identifying cars that could be stolen to friends," Lt. Martin said.
Police say in some of the cases the thieves enjoyed the cars for weeks and shared them with friends.
In other cases Lt. Martin says the cars were used to commit crimes.
"We actually had several of the cars utilized in criminal activity, involved in some robberies, involved in a couple of car chases with other departments."
So far, two arrests have been made.
19-year-old Moises Perez of Portland was arrested and charged with burglary.
Lt. Martin says in his possession was one of the stolen rental cars. He was a former employee of AVIS.
Also arrested was 23-year-old Abdirahman Abdullahi of Portland.
Lt. Martins says an officer spotted one of the stolen cars and followed it into an apartment complex. He said the people in the car took off except for Abdullahi who they say was asleep in the back of the stolen car. Lt. Martin says when officers tried to arrest him, he assaulted a police officer. Lt. Martin said that the officer was actually him.
Both Perez and Abdullahi are adults but at least one person caught with a stolen rental was not.
"We actually had a 15-year-old driving a car down Congress Street when he was stopped and taken into custody for it" Lt. Martin said.
Most of the cars have been recovered. In Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, Scarborough, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
Lt. Martins says the out of state locations are indicative of drug trafficking.
Police do not believe there is a safety concern at the Jetport. They say the thieves were focused on the cars, not people.
Police are working with the Jetport Portland and rental car companies to increase security measures.
NEWS CENTER Maine reached out to AVIS for a comment but have not heard back.