Law enforcement officials have announced the arrest of 16 people accused of stealing more than $15.5 million worth of high-end luxury cars in and around New York City and Long Island, including Lexus, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Range Rover. Two other suspects, Alexander “Bori” Santiago, 37, of the Bronx, and 22-year old Shlomo Koun of Brooklyn are considered fugitives according to Queens DA Richard Brown.
While some of the thefts involved cars in which their owners carelessly left their keys inside running vehicles as they dashed into stores to run quick errands, most of the cars were stolen through more clever methods, including stealing keys from a rental agency and then putting GPS tracking devices in the cars so they could be followed later and then taken off the street.
“These guys were very innovative,” stated Inspector Joseph Kenny of the NYPD auto crimes unit, who warned tat “car owners need to treat their keys the way they handle their iphones.”
Members of the car-theft ring are said to belong to two loosely affiliated gangs that have been operating for the past three years, with some performing “specialized” duties such as securing fake title documents and changing VIN numbers before selling the stolen vehicles to purchasers in the southern US as well as overseas to Israel and the United Arab Emirates.