A syndicate believed to be operating in the Pietermaritzburg and Durban areas are stealing vehicles from dealerships using a scam in which they swap keys.On Tuesday a luxury BMW, thought to have been stolen by the syndicate, was recovered by police.Pietermaritzburg rapid response unit police officers arrested a man driving the car on the N3 on the way to Pietermaritzburg.The car was stolen on Tuesday morning and it is understood it was sold to the arrested man in Umlazi, Durban, for just R25 000.The syndicate are believed to visit car dealerships pretending to be interested in purchasing a car.The syndicate member then takes note of the type of key used for the car and tells the dealership he will come back later.Upon returning he switches the original car key with a dud key that looks the same.He then leaves and returns later, unlocks the vehicle and drives off.Pietermaritzburg’s Phil Precious, owner of Phil Precious Auto Sales, said he was approached by a man interested in buying a Toyota Fortuner on November 10.The man looked at the car and said he had to return to work but would be back around lunch time.“He came back at lunch time to have another look. He returned the keys to me after that and then left. At 7 pm I was called by the guard who said there had been trouble at the lot.”CCTV footage showed two men, one of them the man who visited earlier that day, drive out of the lot with a Mercedes and the Fortuner.“They know exactly what they are doing. The key they use is a blank key that cannot be used or traced. Now we all have to check that the correct keys have been returned,” he said.Another Pietermaritzburg car dealership experienced a similar incident a few months ago.The manager of the dealership, who asked to remain anonymous, said two men arrived pretending to want to buy a car.“One of the men was sitting in the car and the other asked to have a look at the engine while the car was idling,” said the manager.“We believe the man sitting in the car switched the keys. They then said they needed to fetch documents to purchase the car.“Less than 15 minutes later they came back, jumped in the luxury vehicle and drove off. When we realised the car was gone, we were confused because all the keys for all the cars were still in the key cabinet. Then we saw the CCTV footage.”He said that the car had not been found.At the time of going to print last night KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said police could only comment once case numbers and exact dates of the incidents were provided.