Though it may sound more like a Johnny Cash song, new reports say employees at General Motors' Holden plant in Elizabeth, Australia, have been stealing auto parts. Lots of 'em.

Police have been investigating the crime spree since January and say engines and transmissions worth more than $2.5 million have been stolen from the plant. The engines, meant to power VE Commodores (formerly known as the Pontiac G8 in the States) sell for $10,000 each through Holden dealers. The stolen engines, however, were going for as little as $1,500 on the black market, and some of the ill-gotten parts have been traced to off-road racing in other parts of Australia.

The key factor that allowed the thieves to go undetected popped up pretty soon after the first stolen engine was found by police. Sources say factory officials had no idea employees were taking the hardware and were unaware of the scale until notified by police. Apparently there was "no effective tracking system" of engines and transmissions at the plant and therefore very little way to check where incoming inventory ended up. Parts were checked in, but there was apparently no way to know what happened to them after that.

GM Holden corporate affairs manager Sean Poppitt tells reporters, "It is an ongoing investigation and we are not at liberty to discuss any details of it as yet."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hard to believe that someone in that chain of command never wondered why it took 650 engines to build 300 cars.
      • 2 Years Ago
      How could Holden have not known?!?! Absolutely hilarious and embarassing. It's like having the police come to your door and say, "Sir, we've found your TV, laptop, iPhone, dog, and guest bedroom in other people's houses... we think someone's been stealing from you." You then stare them down, being 100% serious when you respond, "Thanks, I honestly had no idea. I'll look into it". How bizarre.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Wouldn't engines entering the plant = vehicles out the door be a pretty straightforward way to to track them? They're not marbles. Are we to believe that the engines are all identical and completely devoid of an identiying number or code prior to being placed in vehicles? Even at a price of ten grand per engine or transmission, we're talking about 2500 items missing. It'd seem to strike me odd that there are that many components coming in and somehow there are less vehicles coming out.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I got it one piece at a time,...and it didn't cost me a dime......
      • 2 Years Ago
      I hope the Aussies aren't too shocked when GM pulls the plug on that plant, and eventually Australian production altogether. This is similar to how the workers at the original Indian Motorcycles in Springfield Mass. essentially looted the company of motorcycle parts for years prior to the bankruptcy and closing of the company in the 50's.
      Michael Page
      • 2 Years Ago
      I once worked at a plant that built busses. Their ordering/receiving/shipping system (called kanban, developed by Toyota) was awesome and simple. I can't imagine how workers could take that much stuff and no red flags went up. To me, it says more about management there
      • 2 Years Ago
      The engines must have some sequence numbers, but I'll bet they're not tracked, since once installed, they become part of the car, and fall under its VIN. The thing I don't understand is how they were able to get them out of the plant - it's not like it's something you can stuff in your pocket, or your lunchbox. Don't they have someone watching the dock, and the exits?
      • 2 Years Ago
      How do you get an engine in your lunchbox?
        • 2 Years Ago
        One piece at a time. It takes 655 work days (not counting vacation) to sneak out an engine.
          • 2 Years Ago
          Smaller pieces go down under. Very effective way to hide them too.
      • 2 Years Ago
      How did they get engines and trans out of the plant? I would fire and sue the security company that watches over the plant. Don't cars have number matching parts like they did in the past? It would have been noticed with the first car that didn't have its motor or trans.
        • 2 Years Ago
        The VINs may be marked at a phase after these engines were stolen, but your point is correct: what a total lack of oversight.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Well the Commodore was on thin lines before. I hope inefficiency like this doesn't ultimately destroy this car.
      • 2 Years Ago
      When I worked for Motorola we had a large ring of employees stealing cell phones and selling them on eBay. They were actually shipped out of the plant to the eBay buyers! This went on for two to three years before they were caught. There were some management people involved.
        • 2 Years Ago
        That happened at Nextel too, before the Sprint merger.
      • 2 Years Ago
      In the early 60's, GM introduced "bucket" seats, all identical across lines except for the covers in style and color, and the side plates (painted or chrome). They literally flew out of factory windows to waiting buddies outside. My landlord in Lansing had a pair in his ride. Littler stuff, like chrome ashtrays and door lock knobs, had been going out for years. All the radios fit all the cars identically except for face plates, so those "had to" go, too. So this is nothing new.
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