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Car Theft Victim Helped Denver Police Bust 'Sopranos' Crime Ring

DENVER (CBS4) – The criminals behind the theft of a Denver woman's car are behind bars. A grand jury indicted a group of 11 men and women on 91 criminal counts related to organized crime. The group identifies itself as "The Sopranos."

"I thought to myself 'I could have sworn I parked it right here.' I start walking up and down the street looking and clicking the remote and no car," said Nora Burns. "My neighbor said she saw my car at one o'clock in the afternoon."

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(credit: CBS)

Sometime between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on June 4, Burns' car was stolen. The short time-frame led her to believe the thieves had experience, but her willingness to find who's responsible caught a major mistake in their getaway.

A 7-Eleven purchase blocks away from her home would mark the start of the end of their crime spree.

"I got a ping alert from Discover that my card had been declined," said Burns. "All of a sudden, I put it together. That card was in the center console of my vehicle."

She called Discover and asked for the store number. She went to the 7-Eleven location and asked the manager if they had surveillance video for the exact day and time her stolen card was declined. They showed her the video.

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(credit: CBS)

"We see him walking up. He's wearing a baseball cap, black shirt, and he's anxious. He's moving a lot. He's pacing a lot," said Burns. "Then he comes up and he runs the card."

She posted a screenshot of the video on an auto theft Facebook group.

"A couple days later, I got a call from a member of the Denver Auto Theft Task Force. He said 'I recognize those people. Do you do you have more footage?'" said Burns.

Police later identified the man in the video as Timothy Bowles, one member of The Sopranos crime group. Investigators say the group targeted Kias and Hyundais and used screwdrivers to break the ignition locks.

They also allegedly stole credit cards from the vehicles. The group has since been indicted and accused of stealing more than $950,000 in motor vehicles, firearms, tools, financial transaction devices and other items between Feb. 19 and Sept. 29.

"They didn't break a window. The car was locked. All the windows were up. The alarm was set. In moments, it was gone," said Burns. "This makes more sense about why they were so good at it, quite frankly."

Police found Burns' car after a concerned citizen reported it parked on their street.

Burns says the thieves put 5,000 miles on her car in less than a month, and it reeked of meth.

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