A multi-level auto theft ring has been taken down after 10 months of surveillance by New Jersey authorities. Over 30 people were arrested says Attorney General John Hoffman. The focus in the past has been on the actual carjackers, but this recent operation aimed to cripple all levels of the operation.
Police also recovered more than 150 cars, less than 20% had been taken from the driver at gun-point; the rest had been stolen off of carriers or were taken while unattended. This ring had a particular interest in luxury SUVs; these vehicles are a hot commodity in some African territories, sometimes fetching over $100,000! This is a serious markup for the “shipper” who buys the cars from thieves for an average of $6,000.
Authorities don’t believe the thieves had any cooperation from port employees because the vehicles travelled in shipping containers with “legitimate” documentation.
The crime of car theft used to be limited to mostly teenagers, but now police are finding perpetrators linked to large, sophisticated operations.
The February sting netted individuals charged with crimes like money laundering, racketeering, and leading an auto theft trafficking network. These crimes carry heavy prison terms which authorities hope will deter future auto theft entrepreneurs.
Although New Jersey has had an epidemic of carjacking since the 1990s, the recent rash led to the assembly of a task force in 2010. One of the counties experiencing high rates of carjacking reported that the crime had skyrocketed almost 50% between 2010 and 2012!
Source: SF Gate