Car Theft Rings in the United States

Every single day in the United States and throughout the world, cars are stolen or broken into. Most instances involve just a single thief or a small group. However, unbeknownst to many are the international car theft rings that exist in the United States. But they are certainly known to law enforcement, as they are in a daily uphill battle to bust these theft rings.

In many of the major transportation hubs in the country, particularly ones with large shipping docks, car theft rings are unfortunately thriving. To give a better idea of how extensive these car theft rings are, let’s examine a recent major bust that occurred.

Operation Cruise Control

On November 4, 2015, the New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced an indictment in which 14 individuals were charged with criminal possession of stolen property, grand larceny, conspiracy, and a multitude of other charges. This was the result of over a yearlong investigation that was conducted by both the NYPD and the State Attorney General’s Office. The use of wiretaps, video surveillance, and informants all resulted in the uncovering of the entire scheme.

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How It Was Done

According to investigators, some of the defendants appeared at car-rental counters at John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport in which they presented both fake IDs and credit cards in order to rent vehicles. Some of the other defendants actually stole cars from the airport parking lots.

These stolen vehicles were then transported to and loaded in shipping containers in a port near the Bronx in order to be transported to West Africa. One of the men named in the indictment was the one who was operating the Bronx shipping-container lot where the stolen vehicles were placed.

Other defendants allegedly used their extensive contacts in West Africa to broker arrangements with buyers in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and the Ivory Coast. A total of 71 vehicles were stolen, with many of them being luxury models, but authorities have stated that they recovered most of them before the ships departed.

One of Many Examples

Car theft rings, with most of the cars being sent to West Africa or other poorer areas in the world, are being busted constantly. Operation Cruise Control is just one example. Even this past October, authorities in both New Jersey and New York busted another car theft ring in which vehicles were stolen and shipped to West Africa as well. This time, 21 individuals were charged. Countless car theft rings exist throughout the country, and one of the main ways to stop them is to increase auto theft security.

Many of the rental companies, such as Avid Budget Group Inc. and Hertz Corp., have been implementing increased security systems and protocols to prevent theft, but more work obviously is needed.

Another major issue is the lack of checks that are done on some shipping docks. Authorities are working on improving security protocols to make sure that the contents of every shipping container are verified. Of course, with all of the shipments that go out every day, this can be an arduous task.

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