In New Jersey authorities dismantled an 11-person car theft ring that was swiping high-end cars from different counties, then reselling the vehicles for profit or stripping them for parts, police said today.
The thieves, allegedly led by a man called Joe, stole at least one or two luxury vehicles a week, dating back to August of last year, Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Roger Imhof said.
The man was accused of leading an auto theft fraud network, while the other 10 suspects all face conspiracy and receiving stolen property charges, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said.
Police swooped in late Monday night and arrested the suspects at various locations throughout Essex County, completing what investigators termed “Operation High-End,” Murray said. The investigation began last year, when Newark Police noticed a high amount of stolen luxury vehicles were being recovered in the state’s largest city, according to Police Director Samuel DeMaio. When Newark detectives discovered many of the stolen cars were from distant parts of the state, they contacted other law enforcement agencies and informed a task force. The N.J. State Police, Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Millburn and Jersey City Police Departments teamed up with Newark Police and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office for the takedown of the car theft ring.
DeMaio said the stolen vehicles were either being re-sold for a “substantial discount” or chopped up in some of the suspect’s garages so the parts could be re-sold. Many of the cars were “re-tagged,” according to Imhof, meaning the suspects bought similar cars from salvage lots, and then placed those cars vehicle identification numbers onto the stolen vehicles.