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ITeam: State Police Auto Theft Task Force To Be Shut Down

BOSTON (CBS) - A Massachusetts State Police task force that hunts down hot wheels, like a pricey Bentley that was stolen thousands of miles away and recovered on Friday, may soon be history, the I-Team has learned.

The Governor's Auto Theft Task Force has been in existence for almost 30 years.

They are 20 highly trained state troopers. If your car gets stolen, chances are these are the people who track it down. Each year they are responsible for breaking up auto theft rings and closing down chop shops. Soon, it appears they will out of business.

On Friday, though, they were in Quincy. The I-Team was there as they descended on a high end condominium in on Quarry Street. They came ready to break down the door and dressed for a battle.

But the homeowner was apparently not there.

Inside the garage they found what they were looking for, a $90,000 late model Bentley.

It had been stolen from a home in West Palm Beach in Florida in October.

Troopers from the Auto Theft Task Force picked up the trail in Quincy. And on Friday they recovered the car along with parts to expensive stolen motorcycles.

As of January 1 this unit will be shut down and the troopers will be re-assigned.

It's part of budget cuts to close nearly a $3 million deficit for the state police.

An email obtained by the I-TEAM and signed by the new colonel of the State Police explains the situation.

"We are not exempt from budget deficiencies," it reads in part. "The department is moving to phase out… the governor's auto theft task force."

Since 1984 the unit has recovered millions of dollars-worth of stolen vehicles and broken up theft rings orchestrated by organized crime.

How does disbanding this unit save money?

The I-TEAM has confirmed that 20 to 25 troopers will be re-assigned to the Mass Turnpike and Logan Airport or Massport.

If that happens those authorities would pay the salaries, not the State Police. If you figure they each make about $100,000 each, their total salaries just about cover the deficit.

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