RIDES TAKEN OFF THE LOT
Auto Theft Crew Busted For Brazen Scheme
Law enforcement agents slammed the brakes last Wednesday, May 8, on a auto theft ring involving 10 residents of Ridgewood, South Ozone Park and Brooklyn charged with allegedly swiping vehicles off the lots of local dealers and then reselling them for their own profit, it was reported.
Prosecutors said the arrests were the result of a lengthy investigation conducted jointly by the Queens District Attorney’s office and the New York State Police. During their probe, authorities determined that the participants in the ring grabbed 11 rides from dealerships in Jamaica, Woodside,
Long Island City and Bay Ridge between December 2011 and February 2012.
In one particular instance, law enforcement sources said, a member of the crew stole a car as it was being transferred from a transport truck to the dealership lot.
“The indictments of these 10 individuals has broken up an auto theft ring that had no boundaries,” said State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico last Wednesday. “Not only are these individuals accused of boldly stealing vehicles in broad daylight as they came off transport trucks, they are additionally charged with stealing a vehicle from an unsuspecting private individual.”
“Rampant car theft in Queens is a thing of the past and this case is a prime example of how we intend to keep it that way,” added Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, who noted that fewer than 3,000 cars were reported stolen in Queens last year, down from 50,000 when he first took office in 1991. “Operations like the one being announced today in conjunction with the New York State Police are effective measures to ward off auto theft.”
Each of the 10 suspects were variously charged in an 82-count indictment with third- and fourth-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, unauthorized use of a vehicle and fifth-degree conspiracy.
The suspects in the case were identified as follows:
• Robinson Santiago, 32, of Schaefer Street in Bushwick;
• Luis Guzman, 33, of Grandview Avenue in Ridgewood;
• Jose Trinidad, 28, of Whipple Street in East Williamsburg;
• Luis DeJesus, 27, of Linwood Street in Cypress Hills;
• Curtis Outlaw, 40, of Duryea Court in Gravesend;
• Frederick Akinsehin, 59, of Mc- Keever Place in Prospect Lefferts Gardens;
• Eddie Rodriguez, 44, of Logan Street in Cypress Hills;
• Nilo Blanco, 22, of Hart Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant;
• Eduardo Rodriguez, 37, of 126th Street in South Ozone Park; and
• Joshua Vasquez, 25, of 132nd Street in South Ozone Park.
The vehicles were reportedly stolen by crew members between Dec. 3, 2011 and Feb. 27, 2012 off the lots of the following dealerships:
• Hillside Honda, located at 139- 07 Hillside Ave. in Jamaica (a 2012 Honda Accord);
• Paragon Honda, located at 57-02 Northern Blvd. in Woodside (a 2009 Honda CRV, a 2009 Honda Odyssey, a 2011 Honda CRV and a 2012Acura TSX);
• Major World located at 43-40 Northern Blvd. in Long Island City (a 2010 Nissan Altima);
• Queensboro Toyota, located at 62-10 Northern Blvd. in Woodside (a 2009 Toyota Camry and two 2012 Toyota Camrys); and
• Bay Ridge Lexus, located at 6502 FifthAve. in Bay Ridge (a 2011 Lexus 450H).
It was also noted that the crew allegedly took a 2000 Dodge Stratus from a private individual during the same period of time.
Law enforcement sources noted a variety of techniques were used to gather information about the operation of the theft ring, including undercover buy operations, physical surveillance and court-authorized electronic surveillance.
Prosecutors stated that in one of the dealership thefts—which took place on Jan. 30, 2012 at Hillside Honda—DeJesus allegedly jumped behind the wheel of a 2012 silver Honda Accord moments after it was rolled off the transport truck during a delivery and sped away from the location. He was reportedly seen walking around the dealership looking at vehicles moments before the theft occurred.
Detectives also learned that Santiago and Trinidad, who allegedly stole a Nissan Altima from Major World on Dec. 3, 2011, agreed to sell the car to Akinsehin. However, it was reported, Akinsehin told Outlaw that he was backing out of the deal.
Investigators learned the suspects stashed the stolen Altima on a local street and, subsequently, were able to place a tracking device on the car. Detectives later used the tracking device to locate the vehicle on Feb. 1, 2012 inside a shipping container at a Staten Island port.
The probe was conducted by Detective Investigator Ronal H. Georg of the DA’s Detective Bureau under the supervision of Lt. Franco Russo, Deputy Chief Investigator Albert D. Velardi and Chief Investigator Lawrence J. Festa. The State Police investigation was handled by its Special Investigations and Auto Theft Units under the supervision of Major Matthew Renneman and with the cooperation of the Westchester County District Attorney’s office.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Hana C. Kim of the DA’s Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau, which is supervised by Assistant District Attorney Mary M. Lowenburg, chief of the Auto Crime and Insurance Fraud Unit, Gerard A. Brave, bureau chief, and Mark L. Katz, deputy bureau chief.
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