Police in NY, NJ crack down on international car theft ring

Police officers stand in front of recovered vehicles after the bust of an international car theft ring in New York and New Jersey.
CBS New York

TOTOWA, N.J. - Thirty-two people have been arrested and six more are being sought by authorities in connection with an international car theft ring operating out of New York and New Jersey, reports CBS New York.

Over 160 vehicles worth more than $8 million were recovered in "Operation Jacked," a 10-month investigation into the violent carjacking ring, according to New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman.

"We recovered 140 of those vehicles at ports in New York and New Jersey, where members of the ring had taken them for shipment," said Hoffman.

Police said that many of the recovered vehicles were luxury SUVs made by Land Rover, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, stolen in northern New Jersey.

"This criminal enterprise stole high-end cars through armed carjackings and other methods and shipped the vehicles to West Africa," said Hoffman.

Of the more than 160 cars recovered, 27 had been taken in carjackings, according to Hoffman. The others were stolen from car washes, airports and other locations where the thieves could steal the vehicles' electronic keys.

Hoffman cited one particularly violent incident from six months ago in Newark, where a carjacker pulled a gun on a woman at a stoplight, dragged her from her vehicle and pistol-whipped her.

Last December, another high-profile New Jersey carjacking made news after Hoboken attorney Dustin Friedland was killed in front of his wife for the couple's Land Rover in the parking lot at The Mall at Short Hills.

"The murder several months ago of Mr. Friedland in Short Hills mall shows how far carjackers will go," Hoffman said.

Among the arrested are the people responsible for committing the carjackings along with those who paid them between $4,000 to $8,000 for the vehicles, Hoffman said. Police also arrested some of the people who oversaw the operation.

"They were carjackers, car thieves, wheel men, fences, and shippers," Hoffman said.

They're charged with various crimes, including money laundering, carjacking and racketeering.