Seven of the eight BMWs stolen from the BMW of Darien dealership in August of 2012 have been recovered, and New York authorities have charged 18 people for their roles in a theft ring that resold stolen luxury cars worth $2.4 million. Darien Police were able to recover the stolen vehicles prior to them being resold with help from the New York Police Department, police announced in a Thursday news release.
These thefts inspired a two-part series by the Darien Times called “The Half-Mil Heist,” since the total value of the cars stolen in Darien exceeded $500,000.
Darien Police had cooperated in the investigation with the NYPD’s Auto Theft Unit since August of 2012. The lengthy investigation targeted the individuals arrested, police stated in a release.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced the charges Wednesday following an 18-month investigation by police and other investigators. He said the suspects stole the cars, changed the vehicle identification numbers, registered them with forged titles and used brokers to resell the stolen rides.
In an interview with the Darien Times last year, Frank Scafidi, a former FBI agent, described this process, which is known as “cloning” a stolen car. Thieves will record the VIN number of an identical car and color. They then go through every part on the stolen vehicle attached to the VIN and replace it with the cloned number. High-tech software systems then create titles that appear completely legit.
Or, the thieves can simply buy a salvaged car of similar make and model and replace the stolen car’s VIN number with the salvaged car’s VIN number.
Those arrested are being charged with enterprise corruption, grand larceny, forgery and other crimes. Three others also face drug charges. Brown said many of the cars were stolen from dealerships in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.
Darien Police were able to collect evidence from vehicles, which were recovered in Queens, and have sent the evidence to the state lab for examination and are awaiting results.
Originally published in The Darien Times.